The Fair

IMG_1659aby Neva Bodin

Last week I had the privilege of staying with my youngest daughter and her family while the county fair sapped much strength from all of us. The two grandchildren showed 3 pigs, 3 goats and 3 sheep. As usual, they came away with purple, blue, and another color or two on ribbons. Next week they go to state fair with goats and sheep.

We sat 3 ½ hours at a pig show one evening, and the same at the goat and sheep shows which ran concurrently one morning. They were sometimes humorous, sometimes sad, and of course we were proud at the ribbons they won: grand champion showmanship, grand champion breeding ewe, grand champion in archery, and more.

It was sad when some of the younger kids had animals that didn’t cooperate and stand right, or ran away from them in front of the judge. The judge was very understanding and had something positive to say about every participant. The peewee show was of course cute and brought smiles to everyone’s face—very small kids led very big animals out to show, usually with help of the regular owner. It’s a neat thing, and gives future 4-H members a taste of the ring.

We were very proud of the kids for their diligence over many months of caring for and grooming and exercising these animals to get them ready. They have to keep track of expenses, birth records, weight, growth, nutrition etc. They get up early each morning to feed and water and exercise, no sleeping in during the summer. And they sell the market animals at the end, earning money for college and other dreams.

Very generous people buy these animals for big bucks to help these kids. Yet, letting go is sometimes heart-wrenching for both the animals and kids. Please share these memories of the fair with me.


Being judged. They have to answer questions about the animal or the industry. Our granddaughter showed three sheep, getting grand champion breeding ewe for one.
Brother and sister competed against each other sometimes.
My grandson guides his pig for the judge.
Walking away with a blue ribbon. The goat is relieved it’s over.
In the show ring with her pig. By the end of 3 hours, all the pigs are pretty crabby! They want their pen. And they are quite verbal at times.
My Granddaughter looks great in her FFA (Future Farmers of America) uniform. This is her first year in that and she is placing high and winning awards in cattle judging and other projects. Here she’s ready for the pig show.
The air in our state is quite smoky from forest fires, making for beautiful sunsets.



13 thoughts on “The Fair

  1. I do remember those fairs from my childhood. Didn’t do the animals, but the sewing and cooking were on the list. You are right, those memories last a lifetime. Doris


    1. Yes, I remember talent shows and baking a coffee cake over and over so I could demonstrate at the fair. Also many frustrations sewing a dress. But those experiences teach so much.


  2. Great column. I was a junior in high school when I went to my first fair… the Washington County Fair in Ohio. We played a carnival game on the midway. We tossed coin-like metal plugs with holes in the center at glassware fifteen feet or so away. If we landed in a glass or plate, we’d win it. As I look back, it’s a sad memory now. Larry, one of the guys I was with that night, passed away earlier this summer. As a young reporter in Lancaster, Ohio, I covered the Fairfield County fair — the livestock shows, women’s cooking contest, horse pulls, and a talent contest. The fair was billed as one of the oldest in the nation, first held back about 1850.


    1. Sounds like you have great memories. Fairs in the midwest aren’t the big carnivals they used to be, many of the county fairs don’t even have carnivals anymore. I remember fairs as magical places close to home. Participants in judging competitions are dwindling in many places. Did you win any plates?


    1. yes, it is sad as we ate my grandson’s pig “Rosie” last year who liked to have her belly rubbed as she lay on her side and grunted her pleasure. She was delicious but I get attached to animals that I raise, so good thing I wasn’t involved in raising her. The pig in Charlotte’s web was much luckier.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Congrats, to those special grandkids of yours. Hoping for the best for our girls this week. I’m home, wore out, and don’t think we will go up for the shows on Friday.


    1. Thanks for reading and commenting. These fairs are energy sapping for us now I think. There are 3 days when something is going on next week for the grandkids at state fair. Will try to get there for them. It’s 50 miles from us. At least I will be able to go home each day. Hope your grandkids did well too.


  4. Neva, your post brings back memories. I helped my parents raise bottle=fed calves and loved them dearly but didn’t work with them like my best friend did; she lived in a neighboring county with active 4-H and FFA/FHA chapters. I later when to work in that county and so heard a lot about my students’ activities–that’s where I learned that you take pigs to the car wash to get them ready for show, and that you bathe chickens and dry them with a hair dryer. One of my students said it was hard to part with her calves, but she knew they’d had better lives with her than they would have had otherwise, because she had loved them.

    (I just realized that’s an equals mark in the first line rather than a hyphen. I have some double-vision at night, so I’m surprised I caught it. I’m leaving it because I think it looks rather elegant.)


  5. I feel pride in your grandkids, too, just from your wonderful post! They are learning important lessons about work ethic as well as skills in bookkeeping, budgeting, etc. I am sure they will excell in whatever they do in life! Their work, and your thoughts, remind me of growing up in Iowa with a pig Mom and Dad decided to raise; we named her Lucy, and I helped care for her. The parents butchered her, and I wouldn’t eat the meat at first. I’m glad we only did that once. Best to your grandkids at State Fair!


  6. I commend all the children as well as their parents and grandparents that take part in the fair. It requires a lot of work and dedication. It also teaches the children valuable lessons that will stay with them for life. I hope they did well at the state fair.


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