Fair Memories

I like a county fair, or at least I like the idea of one. I still love the cattle and exhibits, however time has made me a little less tolerant of people. I can accept the need for Carnies on the midway, however I fail to see a need for rebellious teen-agers with hair died black, black make-up and black fingernail paint; perhaps they’d be useful as walking 4-H exhibits for a class titled, “Here’s how you don’t want to end-up.” I usually bury my rants deeper in my column, however I needed to get that off my chest. This week I want to talk about my memories of the fair.

I presented my first exhibit in open-class at the county fair when I was too young for 4-H. I believe these were mostly arts and crafts projects that really showcased my mother’s ability at touching up my own shoddy work. My heart just wasn’t in it, I wanted to show cattle like my older brothers.

At age 11, I had badgered my parents into allowing me to show a heifer. My first cattle exhibit was Daisy. Daisy was a big, beautiful, even and snug-uddered, Holstein heifer. My word, she was statuesque. A trained monkey could have done well with Daisy as she was so overpoweringly beautiful; I was really just a warm body. Daisy cast-aside the competition (mostly Guernsey’s) like a snowplow through fresh powder, all the while I hung on to her halter and enjoyed the ride. Daisy won the Grand Champion that year and I was pictured with her; a highly-trained chimp wearing all white and holding her halter.

I only showed Daisy one year as she calved and began milking which meant she couldn’t get away from her job during the fair. My next few heifers were named after the actresses from the cast of the television favorite, “Charlie’s Angels.” Farrah and Cheryl did well but I don’t believe I ever paid homage to the rest of Charlie’s crime-fighting Angels. The choice of names clearly indicated that the opposite sex had caught my eye and cattle would have to take second place. My showmanship got much better with time as I learned to show the animals in a more professional manner. The truth is, the animals were my friends and I really wanted them to do well. I remember getting compliments about my attentiveness to them which came naturally as I really like animals.

As I grew older, I gathered different memories of the fair. Fireworks, accompanied by music, became popular and a great memory-maker. There’s something about the lights, music and majestic explosions that stir emotions untouched by logic, however they do create their own place deep in my memories. Kenny Krohn and I always worked at the American Dairy Association booth selling malts for a dollar, those were good memories. Kenny and I are life-long friends and the task of making malts for that many people always felt like a desperate battle against impossible odds and sort of burned itself into my brain. Kenny and I were always triumphant, however we were also covered with that sticky malt-mix which was a little gross but a tangible result of fair attendance.

I hope you go to the fair and are able to take a nice experience home with you. You’ve read some of my memories and they are as unique as is my relationship to this public celebration. I like the idea of a fair; in the end, I guess I would admit I like the fair itself even better.

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