Showing and exhibiting at the fair taught me the values of hard work. It is a commitment that takes a lot of time and energy. In the ring it showed how hard you worked with your heifer before the fair. Every morning my sister and I were out just as the sun was coming up to get our animals from pasture, feeding, washing and practicing leading them before the hot, humid Wisconsin weather set in.
It taught me about love and life. The animals I showed were part of my family. It took time to form a bond with them so they would trust you. Then you spend time grooming, feeding and caring for them so they could look their best. Through the years I have been showing there has also been loss. A loss that is hard to describe, but would be like losing a best friend, an animal that you have raised and watched grow up. I can tell you that I did cry, a lot, over fair animals that passed. With that loss, there is also life. My favorite show cow passed away, but I was able to see her family grow, generations in fact, and I helped raise them and I continued to show her daughters at fair.
4-H also gave me opportunities that I wouldn't otherwise have. For example, traveling to the National 4-H Dairy Conference in Madison, Wisconsin where I met my husband. It also helped me form relationships with people across the country, contacts that helped me get a job out of college.
Being an adult now, I am still involved in the fair. Helping 4-H kids get animals all clipped up and ready and running the dairy show. I love being their role model and leader and I probably get just as excited about fair as they do. I want them to have the same type of memories and life long relationships that I made at the fair.
Showing at the fair created so many memories and values that I will have the rest of my life and it is something that I want to pass along to my family. Make sure you enjoy your local fair this summer and create memories. And please do me a favor and look up your local 4-H club, find something that is interesting for your kids and family, attend a meeting and see what 4-H is all about.