This week marks the week of our local county fair back in my hometown in California. And I am feeling kind of nostalgic about it as I realize this will be the first time in probably 16 years that I won’t attend the fair. Being a 4-H’er for nearly 10 years and then becoming a 4-H leader for several more years, I put in my fair share of time at the fair and got to experience both sides of the spectrum. And I always loved it. But over those years, there were a lot of lessons learned, some of them hard and some of them not so hard. (To see what 4-H taught me, check out this post) So in light of “Fair Week”, I decided to share what I’ve learned over the years while showing my livestock at the county fair.
1. Always Keep a Positive Attitude – It’s easy to lose your cool over PLENTY of things… Your livestock animal isn’t cooperating although you’ve spent countless hours practicing, you forgot X or Y, tensions run high during fair time, that’s understandable. But it’s important to remain calm and keep a positive attitude. While you are at the fair, you are representing 4-H, your county, your town, maybe your school, and your family. And you want to be remembered as that person with maturity and who handled a difficult situation well. Not the person who completely lost their cool and made a fool of themselves. If you find yourself in a difficult situation at the fair, take a deep breath, walk away, compose yourself, and maybe try again later. Or if you can’t walk away, keep a smile on your face and continue on. There is always next year and nobody is going to fault you for your animal misbehaving or the fact that your grooming job isn’t perfect.
2. Always Do Your Best – It doesn’t matter what show you go to, what fair you attend, across the country it’s the same. There will ALWAYS be someone with more money, someone who shows better, someone who grooms (fits) better, someone with better equipment, someone who ALWAYS wins… We all know those families who will stop at nothing to win. But don’t let that get you down and certainly don’t let that get in your way of doing the best you possibly can. There is nothing more fulfilling than selling your animal knowing that you put your all into it so take pride in your products and don’t worry about what those other people are doing! Focus on you, your project, and doing your very best!
3. Always Act Like Someone is Watching – Because at the fair, someone is ALWAYS watching. I can’t tell you how many times I had people tell me they saw me at the fair and I NEVER saw them. If you are doing something you shouldn’t be while you’re at the fair, better think twice. In the worst case scenario, someone who knows nothing about agriculture could be watching you and if you’re actions look suspicious or dangerous, you could be doing more harm for agriculture for good. It’s important to always treat our animals the best we possibly can and ensure safety for both us and our animals at all times while at the fair.
4. Take Time for Opportunities to Educate – The fair gives people that have no involvement with agriculture a chance to be up close and personal with Ag. Take that opportunity to talk with those people if you have time. Talk with them about your livestock animal and all the work you’ve put into your project. Educate them on the potential dangers of approaching a livestock animal that doesn’t know them. Don’t just blow them off, engage them in dialogue and hope that person will walk away from your interactions feeling good about 4-H & FFA and good about agriculture.
5. Don’t Forget to Show Thanks for Those Who Help You – Whether it be your leader, your parents, the buyer of your animal, a fellow 4-H member, the show judge whoever. There is a whole slough of people who donate their time into making the chance for you to show your animal possible. Don’t forget to thank those people. Show appreciation and when the time comes, be willing to donate your time to help them out too!
6. Have Fun! – So many times we get so caught up in the stress of the show and making sure everything is perfect that we forget to have fun. Enjoy the fruits of your labor and the last few days with your livestock animal you’ve raised for months on end. Have fun with your fellow 4-H members and their families. Take some time to enjoy the fun things about the fair, maybe go ride the ferris wheel. Do your best but at the same time don’t forget to have fun too! One day you will miss these years and give yourself some good memories to look back on!
Those are my lessons for successful years of showing your livestock during “Fair Week”!
Good luck to all my friends back home! And I look forward to seeing photos!