30 June 2013 - Let’s Go To The Fair

Let’s go to the Fair! As we move into the heavy schedule of County and State Fairs across the nation, I say “Let’s go and enjoy the Fair!”

There are many reasons for going to a County or State Fair, let me mention just two or three. First of all, County and State Fairs are a great part of Americana, part of our history, perhaps the beginning of competition in the agricultural community. We should maintain that piece of Americana. Secondly it is the opportunity for young people, 4-H and FFA members, to display the results of their months of hard work with whatever their project might be and perhaps go home with a blue ribbon.

Over the years I have told my audience that the greatest drama they will see anywhere on the planet is not on the stage or the screen, but in the judging arena at a County or State Fair. There is nothing more exciting than watching a 12-year-old girl leading a 1400-pound steer around the judging ring, keeping one eye on the judge and the other eye on her steer; or a 14-year-old boy trying to make a 240-pound barrow behave, both hoping the judge will award their animal the grand championship.

Another reason for going to a County or State Fair is to support it financially. With greater budget challenges at the County and State level, fairs are getting less support and premium funding from government agencies, so it is up to us as individuals to promote the fairs with our attendance and participation. And don’t forget the opportunity to help city folks understand what it takes to get food from farms and ranches to their dinner table, with producer/consumer face-to-face conversations.

Finally, a reminder to livestock exhibitors, young and old. We cannot afford to see a repeat of the judging scandals that occurred at several fairs a decade ago. So please read and follow the National Code of Show Ring Ethics, as stated by the International Association of Fairs and Expositions. “Exhibitors of animals at livestock shows shall at all times deport themselves with honesty and good sportsmanship. Their conduct in this competitive environment shall always reflect the highest standards of honor and dignity to promote the advancement of agricultural education. This code applies to junior as well as open class exhibitors who compete in structured classes of competition and applies to all livestock offered in any event at a livestock show.”

Young people learn by doing it themselves, so parents, advisors and leaders, it is fine to offer advice, but then let the kids do it. Not everyone will win, but they will learn something by losing, too. If you read my book “You Can’t Dream Big Enough”, you know that losing the State FFA Public Speaking Contest taught me a greater life lesson than winning it. Have fun at the Fair!

My thoughts on Samuelson Sez.