Monday, August 24, 2015

It's Fair Time!

I love county fairs, and if you've never been to one, then you don't know what you're missing. FFA and 4-H kids show the animals they've raised, and there are craft exhibits and a food show with ribbons awarded for best baked goods and preserves and more, and carnival rides and mutton bustin' and dog and cat shows and a fair queen contest and so much more.

My favorite, FAVORITE part of the county fair is the livestock auction, where steers, hogs, market lambs, and meat goats are shown by the kids and sold to the highest bidder. When my dad owned his farm supply store, he was a huge supporter of the local youth fair (as was my grandpa before him) and bought several steers each year in order to provide each of his employees with a side of beef (and let me tell you, we were thoroughly spoiled by this bounty, as we now have to BUY beef from the grocery store like regular people and it's REALLY EXPENSIVE). And although my friend Christine thinks I'm crazy, I love the hogs the best, because (a) they can't be forced to do ANYTHING, (b) they scream like little girls when they don't get their way, and (c) they entertain themselves in the show ring by eating poop.

Here's a little fun story: when we were first married and living in California, I made my husband go to the local county fair (we lived outside of LA in a rural county). He had never been to one before and was fascinated by the Grand Champion and Reserve Grand Champion steers, which would be auctioned off a few nights later.

"What happens when they get auctioned?" he asked me.

"They go to the meat processor and get butchered," I answered.

"WHY?!" he asked, aghast. "If it's a Grand Champion, wouldn't you want to breed it?!"

I took a long, hard look at him before deciding he was serious and asked gently, "Honey, do you know what it means to be a steer?"

He did not, and if you don't, either, then I'm totally laughing AT you, not WITH you. Look it up. (This also explains why, when we decided to move back to Missouri, my husband went to work for his dad at the mortuary rather than MY dad at the farm supply store.)

State fairs are like a county fair on steroids and are held in September and October. Besides all the livestock and 4-H exhibits, they also have big carnival midways, all kinds of food vendors, mostly of the fried variety, and entertainment in the grandstand, from tractor pulls to national recording artists.

The Missouri State Fair is in the middle of August. We used to go occasionally when I was a kid, but I hadn't been in exactly 30 years (at which time I did NOT go to see the livestock and I shall leave it at that). I've wanted to take my kids there, since we all enjoy the county youth fair, but it was always held right as school started and we couldn't do it (especially since it's a good three hour drive from here). But THIS year was different. My preschoolers don't start school until after Labor Day, which is really late this year, and I don't go back to work until two weeks before that, so I was free to go to the fair; I only needed someone to go with me. When I mentioned to my parents that I wanted to go and needed to find someone to go with me (both kids were already in school and my husband is still stinging a little bit from the whole "steer breeder" thing), my dad said, "Take me! Take me!"

So I did.

And I'll tell you all about it tomorrow....


  1. Interesting. Looks like a happening event. will wait for the next episode :)

  2. How I love the State Fair. We never, ever went as kids. Besides the fact it was two hours away, we were living a small city life. I didn't know what a state fair was.
    This is one of the few years we didn't go. The fair opened after the high school went back and soccer practices started. I've never been without kids, and didn't think I could handle it this year. I had a hard enough time going with just the youngest last year.

    1. It's so hard to go when school has started already, because then you're stuck with weekends when it's so crowded. I was elated to be able to go on a weekday.

  3. Yay! I don't think I've ever been to one of these. Here's my problem: just the thought of the crowds of people makes me want to hide under the covers. I agree that there's a lot of cool stuff to see, but I don't think I can handle all the people.
    And...I looked up steer. I had a pretty good idea of what it must be from your little anecdote, but I wanted to be sure. Like a gelding, right? And a bull's still got his parts, right?

    1. They're really fun. They had a children's area with all kinds of baby farm animals. And we went on a week day ( a COLD week day, it turned out), so there were no crowds. I hate big crowds, too.
      Yes, the steer does not have his parts anymore. No breeding there.

  4. Hmm, I'm the opposite. I steer (see what I did there?) clear of fairs. The dirt and dust and smell of livestock, the crowds, it's hot, it's humid...and then the food is sticky and all that dirt and dust sticks to everything. Bleah. We been to enough (both county & state fairs) for my kids to have experienced it, but by no means is it a regular family outing. However, I do see & understand how some, like you, do love it. I get it. I'm just not one of those people... maybe I'm just too prissy.
    Yeah, that's it. lol

    1. I love the smell of livestock, except turkeys, because they really stink.
      I'm certainly prissy, as evidenced by me stepping carefully around anything that might be a waste product of any of these animals. Farm kids just stomp right on through it all.

  5. Way to leave us hanging, Dyanne!

    I, too, love county fairs--ours takes place just 15 minutes from our home, and all the rides are included in the entrance fee (I give a pass to our State Fair, since it's two hours away and usually broiling hot.) Since we are in the heart of George Lucas rather than castration county, our exhibits run heavily to Star Wars and other creative arts. My kids cashed in for years entering all the contests (produce characters, teddy bear costuming, mosaics,art portfolios, cookies decorated according to the fair's theme). Since animals and livestock are not entirely unfamiliar in our neck of the woods, my daughter's guinea pig also suffered in the small animal pavilion one year. Poor, bedraggled critter!

    Thanks for a good laugh!

    Lorrie at

    1. Part 2 has been published, Lorrie! We went to the Ventura County fair, which is a much bigger version of our little county fairs here. It's in a great location, right on the beach.
      I grew up in the suburbs, but having parents who were both raised on farms, I at least have a working knowledge of things farm-related. Like steers.
      I have threatened to show our 25+ pound cat next year at the fair.

  6. I hope it was/is gorgeous, my friend