Thursday, August 7, 2014

State fair adventures

Loved showing my cows at the fairs!
Growing up, the county and state fairs were the highlight of my entire year. The fair was a time to see my 4-H friends from other areas and other counties that I didn't see very often and to show my cows. I just loved showing my Holsteins and Guernseys at the fair. I spent so much time leading my cows around the field to get them ready, then clipping and getting them ready for their trip to the fair. Winning shows never hurt either.

Now that I'm not 17 anymore, the fair takes on a completely different meaning. While I can technically still show cows at the fair in the open class shows, it's just not the same. Fitting and showing competitions were by far my favorite, and most open class shows don't have them. These shows primarily judge cattle on their conformation, not the showman's ability to present and show the animal.

Since I'm not spending all my time in the show ring anymore, I'm usually working at my company's exhibit educating fair goers about modern agriculture (and especially dairy farming). It's always great to correct misconceptions and help connect people with how their food is grown and produced. Most people just don't know about it and don't know anyone who farms, so they may not have a way to learn about ag other than the fair. The Indiana State Fair is a BUSY 17 days! In fact, that is an understatement. It's exhausting and long. It tests my patience. But at the end of the day, it is an awesome opportunity to talk about agriculture and start conversations about modern farming. 

Today was one of those days. I manage a program that recognizes livestock producers who go above and beyond in their farming practices and today was the annual awards luncheon. I've spent the last two or three months getting ready for this event. Since PR is my specialty, event planning is no big deal. However, this was my first year running this event and I wanted it to be perfect. And it was. We more than doubled last year's attendance and it was a very productive and fun event. I even did an interview about the program with Hoosier Ag Today.

Full house at the livestock luncheon...great group of people.

One thing that has stayed the same since the early 2000s is that I still look forward to seeing people I don't see that often at the fair. Most of my best friends are people I grew up showing cows with. I don't see those friends much at the fair these days since they are 2,000 miles away, but I've been very fortunate to meet a lot of wonderful people here in the Hoosier state that make it feel a lot more like home. Work meetings are always better when you are friends with most of the folks in the room. Visiting friends while they are working at their company's booth and stopping in for a milkshake or ice cream cone to catch up with other friends are also staples of working at this fair. 

Some of my favorite Pierce County dairy friends from about 12 or 13 years ago at the state fair showing our dairy cows

Whatever your reason for visiting your county and state fairs, take some time this fair season to go. If you are looking for a few "must see" spots at the Indiana State Fair, check out the Glass Barn (sponsored by Indiana Soybean Farmers) and of course the livestock barns. 

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