“Rise and shine, its fair time!” dad whispered on an early August morning over 14 years ago.
That phrase became a sort of anthem I heard every morning during fair season since the age of 8. Hearing those words used to almost annoy me – all I wanted to do was crawl under the covers and go back to bed.
Today I am so thankful for those words and all that came with them. To me fair time embodies years of treasured memories from my time each summer in barn 610 – the dairy barn. From July to September, county and state fairs are in full force across the state and nation and those who’ve had the chance to spend a part of their childhood in the livestock barns across the country will understand what I am talking about.
Ice cream, scones and curly fries aside, the fair is about hard work, determination and team effort. It’s not all sunshine and roses – it’s just plain hard sometimes. Farming comes with its set of challenges, both emotional and physical, and being a fair kid gives you a glimpse of that.
With the good comes a share of disappointment, and tears, but that environment, that community support helps you move past the disappointments.
The fair is about friendships. To me it exemplifies the family and the community dairy farming is all about. I’ve made some of my best friends at the fair. Even though I would only see some of them once a year we remained close and will always have that connection. Maybe it’s that we’re all-in-this-together attitude and spending long nights waiting to milk late before show day, or the working side-by-side on early mornings, playing cards to kill the time, and that hug you get after you win or lose.
If there’s one thing to learn from a farmer, it’s that they love what they do.
In the end maybe that’s why the fair is so special to me – it’s a place where farmers and fellow cow enthusiasts come to enjoy a week of fun together and share that passion for what keeps them going.
I’ve enjoyed the opportunity this summer to stop by some of the fairs I used to show at and see the next generation of farmers and young future leaders in our community. I will never be far from the barn I’m happy to still call home.
As fair season wraps up be sure to stop and ask questions and learn more about the dairy farming tradition that runs deep in Washington. Don’t forget the hard work it takes for these kids to bring their animals to the fair and the pride they have in keeping their family’s legacy going.
Until then I’ll be deep in a conversation (about cows of course) sitting on a straw bale playing cards. Come on over and join in!