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Former 'fair mom' relives past stress -- and joy

Posted Tuesday, July 17, 2012, at 3:17 PM

I have to admit this week I smiled a little inside when I realized it's almost time for the Saline County Fair 2012.

I smiled because it's always a great time visiting with old friends. I also smiled because fair week usually brings with it a thunderstorm or two, and we really need the rain. I also smiled because for my part all I have to do is cover a few events.

I don't have to help dig hill after hill of potatoes to try to find six the same shape and size or try to clip and lead cantankerous -- and very hot -- calves, hogs or sheep.

We don't have to pull down dried country-cured hams from barn lofts to get them ready to oil and smoke.

We aren't rushing around putting finishing touches on (okay, start building) wood stilts, rabbit cages or welding projects.

We don't have piles of failed baking experiments and dishes stacked beside our kitchen sink. (Well, not because of the fair anyway.)

There are no early and late bath rituals for steers, nor long hot hours clipping hair in the sunshine.

Nobody is packing the camper, washing clothes and dreading a week of fun in the hot sun.

There are no wrestling matches to referee. "Mom, he's making me load the trailer all by myself. Then he just keeps bossing me around."

There are no constant questions: "Mom where are the clippers, the buckets, my show jeans, the project tags?" and "Are you sure you signed our calves up in time?" "What time are we supposed to be there?" and from hubby, "Do I have to go?"

No, by the time I see all the beautiful projects in the Multipurpose Building, they will be completed to perfection. Any hint they were difficult to make or rushed at the last minute will be hidden.

The fussing, fighting and messes will be forgotten.

Tonight, hundreds of 4-H members will be checking in projects ranging from photography to cake decorating. A few at a time, anxious children will present their projects. Some will only have a project or two. Others will have more than 20 projects to check in.

Nervously, the boys and girls will explain their creations to waiting judges. They will explain the steps they have taken and the lessons they've learned. Some children will speak quickly and confidently, while others will be tentative to speak to a person they don't know.

Parents will be waiting anxiously outside to hear what ribbons were given and what questions were asked.

All will breathe a sigh of relief when the projects are safely checked into the multi-purpose building.

On Wednesday at 5:30 p.m., the general public will be allowed inside to see the vegetables, decorated cookies and intricate art projects. Every year, just when I think the creativity and imagination of our youth has peaked, I am again pleasantly surprised.

Also on Wednesday, goats, chickens, rabbits, ducks, sheep, swine and cattle will begin arriving for the livestock shows. By the time they get there, there will be no sign that there was any arguing between siblings or threatening by parents. They'll be clipped, washed, brushed, broken to lead and ready to show.

The more I think about the fair, I realize I may have lied above.

It's true, I smile when I think a young exhibitor joyfully clutching a blue ribbon. I can't help but grin when I think of long-awaited rainfall I hope will come.

But when I think of all the stress we are missing, I feel a pang of envy instead of a smile. Despite the headaches and panic getting ready for the fair can bring, the truth is clear. It's worth it.

Like anything in life, the harder the work, the sweeter the rewards.

See you at the fair.

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Couldn't have explained it better myself, having had the same feeling when my showing career was done. Yet the same rituals are there with my children, and I am sure they will be there for many generations of fair kids to come!! There's nothing better! :-)

-- Posted by chillin-on-a-dirtroad on Thu, Jul 19, 2012, at 1:14 PM

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