This is the article I wrote for the David City Banner Press which was included in their 2009 Fair Insert.
I can’t believe it is July already! The year has flown by and now we are approaching one of my favorite weeks of summer: County Fair Week. Some of you, I am sure are groaning- because we all know that fair week means hot weather, high humidity and lots to be done. But others, like me, are looking forward to seeing all of the hard work, in the 4-H projects and in open class entries that will be on display. Each year when thinking about fair, I am instantly taken back to the summer of 1993, my first year in 4-H. I had worked hard all year long and was really looking forward to taking my rabbit to the fair to show. I have older cousins and went to the fair with them every year so this wasn’t my first ‘rodeo’. I took photography, cooking and my rabbit as projects that first year and amazingly enough, all of my projects were finished well before judging (I don’t think that ever happened again during my 4-H career).
The cooking and photography judging days were before fair started so we could display our projects with the other members of our club in a booth on the fairgrounds. I did pretty well with my cookies, I am still the only one in my family who makes them right- my mom turns them into hockey pucks, but you didn’t hear that from me! And my photography project was selected to go to the State Fair held in August in Columbus. I was pretty proud when I heard my name called as the representative for Carroll County, especially since I was up against a lot of older kids in that project area.
But back to the rabbits…I only had one rabbit at the time, Blackie, who was a black Mini-Lop I bought from my cousin Angela. We worked all spring and early summer to get him to sit still and I learned the proper way to hold him when I flipped him over for the judge. The day of the show dawned bright and humid, a typical mid-July Ohio day. We got to the barns early as the show started at 9 am. The showmanship classes were first in the program, with the novice showman – youth 9-11 who have never showed before- going first. I went to the podium, got my number, pins and a program for my mom and dad. Then I went back to Blackie’s pen and waited until they called us to come into the ring. I remember being terrified, terrified I would forget something I learned about my rabbi and terrified he would hop off the table and run away. Fortunately, I remembered everything, even to smile and look at the judge, and Blackie didn’t hop away.
Although I didn’t win or place in showmanship that first year, it gave me a learning experience that I would not have had anywhere else. It taught me that it doesn’t matter if you win, lose or are asked to leave the ring because there are too many kids inside, all you can do is be prepared and to do your best when it is your turn with the judge. While none of those lessons were realized that day, and I was pretty upset about not getting a ribbon, the experience lead me to want to work more with my animals for showmanship and increased my interest in learning the most I could about the breed of animal I was showing. And nine years later it paid off when I won both the Senior Showmanship class and the overall Rabbit Showman of Showman class.
When I received these awards, I thought back to that day of my first rabbit show and the journey 4-H had taken me on since that day. I thought back to all of the people, places and experiences that had influenced me and made me into the showman I was that day standing in the ring. I might not always have got it exactly right but there was always a lesson to be learned. It turned out to be much more than just showing up and hoping to be prepared.
During this year’s fair, no matter your level of preparation, you may not get the color of ribbon you like on every project, or entry, but it is the skills, information and lessons learned you learn stick with you for the rest of your life. Hope to see you all at the fair!