Each year when county fair time rolls around, I think back to those years when my sister Charlotte (Allum) and I exhibited at the Moffat County Fair. Some of those memories are the subject of this week’s “From Pipi’s Pasture.”
Since Charlotte and I are about the same age, we were in 4-H together. We belonged to the Hamilton Busy Beavers 4-H Club that met monthly at the Hamilton School. Kids from Morapos, Deer Creek, Loyd (an oil camp), Hamilton and the surrounding area belonged to the club.
In those days, the Moffat County Fair was held late in August, so close to school starting that we kids sometimes had to leave the fair to register for the coming school year and pick up our books. Since the pavilion was used for open entries and community booths, the judging of general 4-H projects took place on a separate day before the county fair. The dress revue and an awards program were held the same night.
For Charlotte and me, the focus of 4-H work was on livestock, but we did complete other projects, as well. I remember that Charlotte worked on cooking projects; I’m not sure what else. The memory that stands out most about her cooking was the year she had to make jelly.
Charlotte cooked up a batch of jelly during the summer, to practice, and something went very wrong. The jelly set up so hard that you couldn’t put a dent in it. Believe me, we tried. So did everyone else who came to the house, including the 4-H county agent. Some even suggested that she patent the jelly recipe so that it could be used in making tires or other similar items. I don’t think Charlotte ever figured out what went wrong, but she had plenty of time to make more jelly for exhibit. When she gave a speech about the jelly incident at 4-H Conference, she won a blue ribbon!
I remember completing projects in home furnishings, first aid, home nursing and entomology. The project I remember most was entomology. I had to collect insects that were placed in a kill jar and then pinned to cork in a box that had a glass cover. One year I caught an extra large grasshopper and went through the procedure for putting him in the box. During judging, to the judge’s surprise, the grasshopper started to move around. After the fair, I took him home and turned him out.
Apparently, the grasshopper got a good sleep for a while. Anyone who might think that having a pin in his back was cruel has only to consider the thickness of a grasshopper’s exoskeleton!
After this exhibit day was over, we got our animals ready for the county fair. Depending on the year, we had beef breeding and fattening animals, and Charlotte took sheep. Several days were spent on trimming hooves, clipping, blocking and washing. Then we gathered up all of our supplies and the day before the fair we took all of the animals to the fair barn and got them settled.
Two things stand out from memories: the excitement of showing and spending time with our friends and getting up early on the fair mornings. We did not stay in town during the fair so we had to get up at 4 a.m. to head for Craig. (We fed our animals at 6 a.m. each day and rarely changed the schedule.) Even though the days were hot, those mornings were cold, and I remember that sometimes there was a little frost on everything.
Charlotte and I competed at Moffat County Fairs for years. We won lots of awards; at other times we didn’t place. Charlotte was the first Moffat County Fair 4-H Queen. We shed tears when we had to part with our animals, but we never gave up. And we still have the memories.