A&L: Fair time rolls around again | CraigDailyPress.com

A&L: Fair time rolls around again

Diane Prather

County fairs have been around for a long time.

They had roots in rural communities, providing opportunities for neighbors to get together and show off crops, livestock, home-canned produce, and needlework.

Making fairs even more exciting are competitions and attractions such as carnivals.

Over the years, 4-H and FFA livestock competition became an integral part of county fairs.

This year, Colorado 4-H celebrates its 100th year, giving one an idea of how long 4-H has been associated with this state's county fairs.

But, one thing's for sure. No matter where county fairs are held, "fair time" probably means:

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• Polishing up jars of jams, jellies, pickles, and other home-canned foods, getting them ready for judging.

• Picking 12 pole beans, 12 pod peas, or three petunia blossoms of uniform size for competition in the horticulture division.

• Marveling that a neighbor already has tomatoes and zucchini ready to pick.

• Sharing thoughts with other exhibitors as to solutions to grasshopper, deer, raccoon, and skunk problems.

• Baking cookies and breads the night before competition, hoping there won't be a "flop."

• Checking a quilt for loose threads and finding just the right frame for a favorite photo, getting ready for open class judging.

• Checking out the fair book for entry information.

• Waiting around on judging day to see if the giant Lego tower, built during the winter, wins a blue ribbon in the crafts division.

• A brisk business for food vendors on the midway, where fairgoers can buy hamburgers, hot dogs, cotton candy, funnel cakes, and snow cones.

• Riding the mechanical bull.

• Browsing the display of tractors on the midway.

• Trying to win an animal during the catch-a-pig contest.

• Finding a missing youngster in the rabbit/poultry barn.

• Early mornings and late nights for fair participants.

• The politicians will have set up booths.

• Busy wash racks at the livestock barn.

• Trying to keep a safe distance from water fights on the wash racks.

• Busy blocking chutes where show cattle are clipped, tails fluffed out, and hooves polished.

• Busy lamb tables where show lambs are groomed.

• Making sure the show box is filled with combs, brushes, clippers, show halters, and other supplies needed for the livestock show.

• Polishing up last year's belt buckle and hoping to win another this year.

• Making sure the brand inspection papers are in order.

• Remembering these words: "Keep your eyes on the judge."

• Listening to the rain as it falls on the barn roof the night of the Junior Livestock Sale (because it often rains then).

• Grown-ups being there to help grab that steer who, tired of standing too long, decides to pull away from a youngster and run around.

• The familiar sight of ring men and auctioneers who try, year after year, to get the best prices for kids' animals during the Junior Livestock Sale.

• A lot of tears the night of the Junior Livestock Sale as kids say goodbye.

• Being a spectator at roping, bull riding, tractor pulls, and other special fair attractions.

• Adorable toddlers dressed in cowboy hats and boots, ready for the Cowboy Baby contest.

• A lot of proud parents and grandparents.

• Learning to be a gracious winner and a good loser.

• Learning from mistakes.

• Helping others.

• Volunteering to be a "watcher" in the pavilion.

• Being happy that a neighbor won the blue ribbon for best pickles.

• The delicious "smells" of meat cooking the day of the community barbecue.

• A lot of "handing out ribbons" work for fair queens and attendants.

• Proud 4-H members as they show off their ribbons at the General 4-H Division displays area.

• Kids leading dogs, just finished with competition, around the fairgrounds.

• Looking around at exhibits and thinking, "I could have entered my jar of strawberry jam."

• A lot of "next year" talk.

• Realizing that hard work pays off.

• For many, looking forward to exhibiting at State Fair.

• Saying thank you to the many volunteers who make the fair successful.

Copyright Diane Prather, 2010.

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