When you grow up spending your summer at county fairs, there's little that warms your heart more than watching your kids enjoy their first fair. Like really. A lot.
I spent my summers showing Shorthorns at one southern Illinois county fair after another. I made friends I'll have forever, and have memories ingrained that I'll never forget. (for better or worse!) I did my time in the water tank, kicked the dirt while sitting on the showbox and slept in freshly bedded stalls at night. I learned to lead four at a time to tie-out, to toss bales and sack feed, and to clean stalls for 24 head (oh serenity, that takes a sweet forever).
And this year, Jenna got her first taste of the county fair life. Playing cards with friends, disappearing from her parents' watch 'cause we knew (sort of) where she was, and throwing endless buckets of water at the end of a long, hot, long, hot week.
I've written before about my friend, Jane, and her daughter, who's about the same age as my oldest. At 5, Jane's fiercely competitive daughter named her bottle calf "Springfield" (aspirations!) and whispered in her calf's ear, "If you want to be a champion, you have to act like a champion!"
This is a child after my own heart. She is a competitor. And the county fair gives her an outlet for her competitive spirit, and a chance to work her tail off and see the fruits of her labor. I wrote about our experience this summer, and though there were difficult days, I wouldn't trade it for the world. My girl learned and grew more in the course of a few weeks than she could have experienced in any other way.
And we wouldn't have it any other way.
The archives: 30 Days on a Prairie Farm
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