Monday, August 5, 2013

The County Fair Marathon... over!


3 fairs. 10 days.

See why I said marathon?

Mission 1: Pull off all my events I was in charge of without a glitch.

Mission 2: Have fun.

Mission 3: Survive.

I can say that all three missions were successfully executed! Although mission 3 was a little touch and go on Friday night. I ended up with face wash on my toothbrush (signs you know you're sleep deprived!!) and I may or may not have thought I was going to die after brushing my teeth for a good 5 seconds with face wash. But I recovered in time to make it through the final event on Sunday. Then, I even had enough energy afterwards to pull weeds, mow the lawn, trim bushes AND make brownies!

I am woman...hear me roar! :)

Two of the fairs I attended were for work purposes. Since I loan money to farmers and farmers kids usually make up the majority of the county fair participants, I see a lot of customers in one place and it's quite fantastic. I also find that one of the best things I can do to be successful at my job is be involved in the community, and county fair is just one of those places I can volunteer my time. This is a major bonus about my job because I LOVE being involved in the community! Win win!

One of the three fairs, however, holds a special place in my heart. I don't get to volunteer at this point due to me living so far away. Hopefully that will change someday! But, I get to go back every year to eat some great food, hang out with and cheer for my family who still participates in the fair today, and to catch up with old friends and reminisce about the days when we were 4-H'ers.

I don't know what it was about the Cass County Fair this year, but I got a little sentimental when I came home from the first day of being back at those fairgrounds. It may have been that my old 4-H crush brought up the fact that he beat me in Beef Showmanship our last year of showing (a prize that is one to brag about for you non 4-H'ers) and I didn't believe him so I got out my old record books and took a trip down memory lane.

There are a lot of memories in these old books, and I want to tell you about a few of them. But the first thing you should know before I even start taking this trip down memory lane is that County Fair week was the best week of the entire year. Yes, it was better than Christmas. It was better than birthdays. It was even better than vacation. It was THE best week EVER!!! I never wanted it to end. I cried every year, even when I got older. And I didn't even care if it made me look like a baby.

Showing cattle was a big part of my life. I loved these calves. I spent hours every day in the barn with them in the summers. I even fell asleep on top of them once or twice in the barn. They were my pets. And they were awesome. There was just something about leading a calf around the show ring, getting that purple ribbon and knowing that all your hard work payed off that was so rewarding and satisfying all at the same time.
I know it sounds silly to those of you who never showed livestock, but they molded me into the person I am today. They taught me responsibility, hard work, perseverance, and the value of a dollar. And learning those things, amongst others, starting at the young age of 9 is something I will never regret. I can't thank my parents enough for letting me experience it.
Then there were pigs... At Euken Farms Inc. we have livestock facilities for cattle. And cattle only. But boy did I want to show pigs at the County Fair! Not only did my family and friends show pigs and it looked like a blast, but I knew how much money I could make on top of having a great time. (No, I'm not greedy, I had college to pay for!) However, my parents were very against me showing pigs. I don't know if you know this, but I'm not one to give up without a fight. So, I called my uncle, who raised pigs at the time and asked if I could keep my show pigs at his place and in exchange I would help bed pigs whenever he needed help. And just like that, I became a pig showman. And a good one, too! :) Showing pigs, just like cattle taught me valuable life skills. So thankful for my Uncle Craig making it possible for me to learn and grow through showing pigs!

There was lots of other fun stuff I participated in at the county fair. I took sewing projects, food projects, home decorating projects, refinishing projects, the list goes on and on. Long story short, there was no such thing as Pinterest back in the day so I was able to use my imagination to come up with some pretty great projects to bring each year to the fair. With each of these projects as well as the queen contest you sit with a judge who evaluates your exhibit. You go through an interview with the judge telling them about your project, explaining your goals, what you've learned, etc. At the age of 9 I was learning how to look people in the eye, go though and interview and "sell" if you will a judge on why my project is the best and deserving of a coveted purple ribbon. I know I would not be an open, bubbly, talk to anyone saleswoman today if I would have not had these experiences growing up.

And then there was my family. I'm super lucky in that in my family we are best friends too. One of the greatest things about the fair was getting to run around with my best friends all week. Our parents never seemed to know where we were, unless it was time to eat or we needed money, because we were usually lost in a cattle barn dropping a plastic spider on some city kid and watching them scream. (And no, it never got old!!) We supported each other, cheered each other on, and made so many memories. Ones that I will carry with me forever.

Now that I've outgrown the 4-H days, I get to go back to the great Cass County Fair with the same family members, but this time I get to cheer on the younger generation. I get to watch them run around making their memories and it warms my heart.

But don't worry, I'm still making memories too. Just in a different way this time...

I'm so thankful for these County Fair memories and experiences. I'm thankful for 4-H molding me into who I am today. I'm thankful for my family and the great friends I met along the "4-H journey." But most of all, reflecting on this part of my life makes me so excited to be a 4-H Mom someday, and watch my kids grow, learn and make memories through similar experiences.

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