There is nothing like the county fair to bring out the best – and worst – in both participants and parents. Here is an article I wrote several years ago about my first experience as a 4-H Mom at the county fair. We’d love to hear your experiences!
A new era has begun. Our oldest son, Brent, started 4-H this year. Throughout the summer I shared his enthusiasm, recalling my own experiences as a 4-H member. The friends, the trips to new places, the fair – all the memories came rushing back like a patchwork quilt, lovingly pieced together.
Recently, Brent’s hard work culminated in the county fair. He had anticipated it for months, and I was excited about sharing this special time with him.
We loaded up his projects and headed to the fair. Everything seemed to go well. That is, until the hog show was about to begin.
Then it happened.
Almost unconsciously, I slipped into the role my own parents played so many years ago.
“Do you have your brush? Tuck in your shirt. Get rid of that gum. Now, make sure you keep the pig between you and the judge. And always keep your eye on the judge.”
With each statement, he moved a little further away. The moment there was a break in my staccato-like commands, he scurried off to a far corner of the barn.
That was okay. I knew I’d have another shot before he went into the ring. But time was running out. Only 20 minutes before his class. Should I check to see if his pigs are washed and ready to go? It was almost as if I were possessed – a driven, demonic 4-H mothering machine.
The judge was beginning to make his final sort in the class right before ours (uh, I mean Brent’s). Time for action. I headed down the alley purposefully, impervious to the glances of those around me. Yes, there he was, opening the gate to his pen. He started down the alley at a leisurely pace. “You’d better hurry up,” I urged. “There are already a lot of pigs in the show ring.”
He began moving more quickly. “Now just slow down,” I cautioned. “There’s no need to get in too big a hurry. Stay cool.”
I should have taken my own advice. But I couldn’t help it. I was on automatic pilot.
He finally made it to the ring, but the judge just wasn’t paying attention to his pig. “Brent,” I hissed from the sidelines, while glancing around to see if anyone had noticed my bizarre behavior. “Keep you pig moving, keep your hands off his back – and get rid of that gum!”