Wednesday, June 17, 2015

The Week Before The County Fair

It's the week before the county fair in our tiny part of the world.
The wonderful, beloved, long-awaited, anticipated, (right-about-Tuesday-overrated) county fair. 

What does that look like?
Well, per usual, not this Rockwell painting:



I reflect back to the week before the county fair when we were in 4-H and think that possibly the greatest display of sincere love and patience Momma ever showed was not killing us - or herself - the week before the county fair. 
Looking back, I don't know how she did it. 

It's the week before the county fair. 
Show boxes are being pulled out, scrubbed out and rinsed out. Old ribbons are being straightened out then carried to the house. Do you keep yellow ribbons? That is an internal debate. Show halters are being scrubbed then conditioned. Kids are realizing that their parents may have known what they were talking about when they said, "Clean it out now. In a year you'll be glad you did."
Kids are wishing that they had

It's the week before the county fair. 
Women are feverishly leafing through Southern Cooking and Taste of Home cookbooks, searching for the perfect four-layer-chocolate-truffle-cake-sure-to-beat-'Ol-Always-Wins-Whats-Her-Name.
Ugh. 
For as much sugar as she puts in her cake, you'd think 'Ol-Always-Wins-Whats-Her-Name would be just a little bit sweeter...

It's the week before the county fair. 
4-Hers are rummaging through the trash trying to find the ingredient tag off of any feed sack. Project books are being completed - because of everything short of a gun held to the head - at the stroke of midnight, then being hand delivered to 4-H leaders' homes at the crack of dawn for the final signature. 

It's the week before the county fair. 
A crowd sits in the rural school auditorium, watching shy girls transform into confident young women in chiffon during the beloved queen contest. That same crowd shares coordinated seat shifts when a contestant question is answered without thought. That same crowd beams with pride when the most deserving young lady is crowned. 


Julie Moyer Arnold

It's the week before the county fair. 
Mothers are stuffing their growing children into the white jeans she bought too sizes too big last summer, sure they'd fit perfectly this year. She is also wondering why said children chose the dairy project again. They don't even regularly finish the leftover milk from their cereal. 

It's the week before the county fair. 
Open class exhibitors are watering, plucking, scouting, pruning, picking, poking and poaching the perfect produce. They're also trying to remember what time the old Master Gardener around the block usually goes for his Saturday morning coffee? Before open class check-in ends at 10:00, they hope. 

It's the week before the county fair. 
Muffins are burning, cakes are collapsing, little brothers are taste-testing things they shouldn't and young gals are calling their grandmothers to decipher cursive writing on a recipe card, From the Kitchen of: Mary Lou, 1978.

It's the week before the county fair. 
Show numbers, registration papers and health papers are held in higher regard than the third child's birth certificate. Perhaps even the third child, entirely

It's the week before the county fair. 
Showmen are shaking aerosol cans, checking volumes, to determine just how much money they'll pay Mr. Sullivan next week. 

It's the week before the county fair. 
This is right about the time that the $200 in creative spending you've invested in at Hobby Lobby should kick in, but doesn't. 


It's the week before the county fair. 
Grandparents are gathering their one dollar bills, sure that half of their life savings will be spent on fair food and the livestock auction in the next 10 days.  As long as the grandkids are happy...and hydrated. 


It's the week before the county fair. 
Young, inexperienced mothers are laying out clothes: Shirts you're allowed to eat a snow cone in, shirts you cannot. In two weeks they'll pre-treat, wash, dry, fold and put in a trash bag for cousins. "Barn Clothes" she'll label them. Some may become dust rags with a story. 

It's the week before the county fair. 
Thirty-somethings are looking at their open class projects, glue still drying the morning that it's due for judging, thinking: I thought I'd have it more together by now. 

It's the week before the county fair. 
Teens are wondering if their fair crush will remember them. 
Two things I want you to note here:
1. Of course he/she will; there are 16 teens your age in 4-H in the county. Your crush is related to 8 of them. Your odds are fantastic. 
2. You're the complete package, you just haven't come to realize it yet. 

It's the week before the county fair. 
Campers are being pulled out of the barn. Fathers are making to-clean lists, mothers are still wondering why they bought the dirty old thing and kids are trying to convince both that they'd rather sleep in a tent. "Memory Maker" dad called it; I won't type what Momma called it. Young people read this blog. 

It's the week before the county fair. 
The Worst of the Worst sibling fights are sure to take place this week. Things will be said, done, sworn and physically carried out. None of those things are true or good or right. In fact, those things won't be said, done, sworn and/or physically carried again out until the Summer Type Conference in Springfield next week. Or the week before Junior Nationals. Or Louisville. Maybe (probably)  all of them. 


It's the week before the county fair. 
Mothers say things such as:
You are never - ever - doing this project again.
When I was in 4-H I had my projects done in April.
I swear if I find out you talked to your brother that way in public...
You kids are lucky this only lasts ten years. I would have killed you in the eleventh.
Get your hair out of your face and tuck your shirt in. 


It's the week before the county fair.

Survive it, embrace it, love it, and remember:

The next ten days will go so quickly. 


But seriously -  next year? 
Start earlier. 

3 comments:

  1. WOW! This is just perfect! Enjoy your fair! I will have to reflect back on this when our fair rolls around just after school starts! Thanks for sharing!

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  2. Hi, greetings again from rural north central Oregon, love this article as well as the "Coach" one I just read! I am the 4-H Youth Development Coordinator for our county, and would love to print all or part of this in our August newsletter, may I have permission? cindy.brown@oregonstate.edu

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