Even though my kids are grown and no longer showing livestock, attending the UP State Fair is still one of my favorite things to do. I know I’m not the only one, however I have given up on trying to explain that to non-livestock or non-4H people.
While I’m sure the fair tries to make it be a ‘something for everyone’ destination I definitely think those of us, past or present, who are livestock families have the best time. I can remember my sister asking me how I could stand to be there all week. Didn’t I get tired of the carnival games, rides and food after the first day or two? I had to explain to her that we hadn’t had time to do rides or games. If we were lucky we’d squeeze those in on Saturday after the sale when Dave was able to join us. As for the food-Silly Question! You don’t get tired of fair food in a week. These days I stress because I have to try and fit all my favorites in in just a couple of days. Deep fried Milkway vs caramel apple, elephant ear vs funnel cake-see the struggle is real! When the kids were little we started a tradition of one treat to share on our way back to the camper for the night. They’d take turns picking. Sometimes I’d even get a turn.
Today a friend mentioned he had been to the fair yesterday. He noticed how easy it was to pick out the 4H kids and/or families. Yes it is true, we often found ourselves out in ‘public’ wearing barn boots, clothes covered in questionable spots and smells, hair in a ponytail or hat because sometimes showering just has to wait.
I remember one year a friend of mine from high school who had moved away came home during fair week. After watching a class or two of the pig show one of her kids turned to her and said, “don’t ever make us do something like this!” I understand that if all of the project you see is kids following their pig around while trying to dodge a dozen others it may not look like fun, but all I could think was ‘You don’t know what you’re missing!’
Really the fair is two separate events that just happen to occur at the same time and place. Those that are coming in for the day to ride the Ferris wheel, win a stuffed animal and eat a corn dog will never understand how lugging your pig food from the back corner of the fairgrounds, giving a sheep a bath when that’s the last thing it wants, or auctioning off that animal you’ve raised all year can be considered fun. To the rest of us-these make up family memories that we will cherish forever!