Weekly Blog August 19th, 2018: 4-H And The County Fair

Hello Internet!

I hope everyone is having a fantastic week! I know that summer is coming to an end and more and more people are going back to school. I send out my thoughts and well wishes to all the teachers who are going back and the students who are dreading going back to school. If you’re going off to college, I hope that you have a wonderful semester and you don’t spend too much time partying. I know that I sound like a boring parent or something, but you are there for learning, so do some of that as well. I know around me that there are a variety of county fairs and summer picnics and other local festivals going on all this month, so if you’re attending something similar, I hope you have a wonderful, but safe, time! I’m actually going to share some fair stories from my youth in a second, but let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves. First I want to tell you all about all the things that got published on the website. You know, just in case you missed them. Last Sunday I published a Weekly Blog all about The Dangers of Overworking Yourself and how to avoid burnout. It was inspired by Jaiden Animations and her video on the topic. So go ahead and read that Weekly Blog, if you haven’t already, and then go check out her wonderful YouTube video on the subject. Or vice versa. Whatever order you prefer. On Wednesday, I published a new Poem titled Summer’s Descent. In it I try to encapsulate the feeling of Summer ending and Fall beginning. Very prominent stuff right now. On Friday, I published a Writing Prompt piece titled Project Umbra all about a spy being dragged back into her old, spy ways and a secret government program. So if you like spy thrillers with a little bit of Science Fiction tossed in, check that out. It’s only a beginning of a story, but depending on how much love it gets, I might continue it sometime in the future. Finally, on Saturday, I published the second part of my short story titled Crossing Bridges. Check out Crossing Bridges Part 1 and Crossing Bridges Part 2. It’s a really awesome story that I enjoyed writing and I think you will enjoy reading.

That’s enough with that! I think I talked enough about what happened this past week. Let’s talk about what is happening now. Like I said, over the past month there have been a variety of different county fairs, state fairs, end of summer festivals, and small town events around me. Almost every weekend there has been some kind of picnic, concert, or outdoor gathering as everyone tries to cram there end of summer events into the month of August. This got me thinking about the fair and my experience of it as a child. About this time last year I published a Weekly Blog talking about The County Fair and some experiences I had, but with this Weekly Blog, I want to take a deeper look into fair life and what it was like to be a “4-Her” at the fair. Share some stories about showing animals. Hopefully that all sounds interesting to you. If not, uh….please stick around anyway. Stories are always a blast to listen to, right? Anyway, let’s talk county fair!

Like I’ve mentioned before in this Weekly Blog and others, I was big into 4-H when I was a youth and this came with a lot of responsibilities around fair time. The county fair was THE big event you were looking forward to. If you were taking animal projects, like me and my family, the fair was the place where you got to show them and hopefully win Grand Champion. The best of the best. If you were taking non-animal projects, the fair was the place where you got to put them in your 4-H club’s fair booth to show them off to all the elderly people who walked by. Basically you just hung up a poster with pictures of what you did or bring in the actual project and sit it in the booth. Then you would get judged on it and given a ribbon. 99% of the time you’d get a blue, “Grade A” ribbon as long as you completed it. I took a variety of projects to the fair in my time including things like Electricity, Art, Camp Counselling, Rocketry, and others.

I also took animal projects to the fair. Specifically I took Sheep and Rabbits. I always preferred the rabbits because they were smaller and easier to handle. Sheep can be cute, but it was hard for me to keep a hold of the sheep, especially when I was really little. Of course there are some larger rabbits like The Checkered Giant which are shown by just sitting them on a padded table and letting them run back and forth. They are “running rabbits” for that reason. There was one year where a Checkered Giant bit a judge. They always kind of scared me. I had a much smaller, much cuter breed of rabbit called the Holland Lop.

holland-lop-2.jpg

I mean look how cute it is with it’s floppy ears! I am a sucker for floppy ears. And don’t worry, lops like the Holland Lop above are supposed to have floppy ears. The picture above actually looks a lot like the Holland Lop I had and showed for many years. I remember that he would always start molting his fur from his summer coat into his winter coat right before fair would start. This was pretty common with all Holland Lops, I guess, because when I brought mine up to the judges station with all the other Holland Lops, they all would be a mess of fur. I always did pretty good with my Holland Lops. Not number 1, but a respectful second or third place. I remember several judges said that his height was great, width was great, and posture was great. His fur was always a huge problem though. Oh well. His adorable face and floppy ears always made up for it.

When it came to sheep, I don’t really have a lot to speak of. My two brothers were always more into sheep than I was. They were cute, but also really annoying. Especially when you got a bunch of them together. Imagine a full barn full of sheep just baa-ing non stop. They also chewed on everything they could reach. They would rub some of the wool off their heads and necks by reaching their heads through the gate to eat grass on the other side of the fence when they had perfectly good grass on their side. These sheep literally thought the grass was greener on the other side. No matter how bad sheep were, though, goats are always worse! I feel like there was a little bit of rivalry between the sheep and the goats, but it was nothing compared to the rivalry between Beef Cows and Dairy Cows or Jr. Fair and Horse People. I can’t really go into the nuances of that statement, but if you were in 4-H and involved in “Barn Politics” or Jr. Fair, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

Back to my experience with showing at the fair. Again my sheep were nothing special and never got very high in shows, but they were just market lambs, so I didn’t put a lot of stock in them. The rabbits I had were show rabbits, so you just kept them as pets after the fair or bred them to have new rabbits for the next year. You didn’t eat them. Sheep were either for breeding and wool production or market labs. At the end of the fair, there was an auction to sell of all the market labs before they were taken to be turned into lamb chops. I know it kind of sounds heartless, but it was a part of the whole process. I mean meat has to come from somewhere. Raising animals that are then turned into food is the whole goal of farming and that’s something you learn when you take market animals to the fair. I remember my first year, I balled my eyes out when my lamb when across the stage and was put on the truck. I spent the next few minutes talking to my lamb and I tried to comfort it. I cried and cried for the sheep I spent months raising. When I got older, it didn’t affect me as much. I didn’t become numb to it, but I understood it was all a part of the process. It still broke my heart, but again, food has to come from somewhere. At least this way I knew that the animal got to live a full life where it got to run outside, eat grass, and baa it’s little heart out with other sheep. They lived a great life, got to be shown at the fair, and then went off to become lamb chops. Also I got to snuggle my bunny and pet it to make me feel better after the fair was over.

Thank you so much for reading that Weekly Blog. I hope you enjoyed hearing some stories about my experience showing at the fair. There are more stories that I will have to tell you some other time. If you enjoyed this week’s Weekly Blog and/or want to hear more stories about my youth at the county fair, go ahead and give this Blog a like. You can also leave a comment down below talking about how cute floppy-eared rabbits are, or you can share some of your stories about the county fair. Maybe you showed some animals at the fair. I would love to hear all about your experiences. Also if you haven’t read those other pieces I mentioned up above, check those out. We just passed 270 pieces here on the website, so there are plenty of stuff to read. You might just have to spend a little time searching for the stuff you want to read. If you need some suggestions, leave a comment down below with the kind of stuff you like to read and I’ll share a relevant piece with you Anyway, thank you so much for all the love and support you send my way in the form of views, likes, comments, and shares. It all makes me so happy and it’s like you’re sending a virtual hug my way.

Thank you again and I hope you have a wonderful week!

-Allen_The_Writer

 


Header Photo Credit to The Schuylkill County Fair (Which is in Pennsylvania, if you were wondering.)
https://www.schuylkillfair.com/

Holland Lop photo
https://www.petguide.com/breeds/rabbit/holland-lop/

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