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Washing my hands of fair tasks

From the Farm

August 10, 2012
By Kerry Hoffman , The Journal

It's fair week, I am already tired and there are still two more entire days left to go sit in the barns.

As a parent of children that show cows at the Brown County Fair as members of the elite Leavenworth Lucky Clovers 4-H group, I knew this week would be somewhat hectic and sleepless.

Earlier this year, I washed my hands of showing any animals at the fair. But that doesn't mean I don't get out of work. I have to get up in the morning to milk the cows while Joey and Russell go to the fairgrounds to take care of the Jerseys they are showing.

Article Photos

Kerry Hoffman

I didn't want anything to do with fair preparations and packing the show box. Joey and Russell are old enough to take care of all those odd jobs on their own.

Many of you don't know all that goes into preparation for the fair for 4-H members.

For days, 4-Hers spend hours and hours preparing their animals for the fair.

Usually those prep days involve three or four days prior to the fair and they really work their fingers to the bone! It's no different than a science fair project.

Many kids spend hours teaching animals to walk on a halter. Those exact same kids probably put the kibosh on taking certain animals into the show ring because the animals "just don't get it" and struggle with the control of a halter.

Remember last year I wrote about how Pickles would flop herself on the ground and play 'Wet Noodle,' in much the same way that small children do.

Well, she has outgrown that and walks perfectly fine for Joey.

I am so glad I trained her last summer.

Our boys have previously chosen to take several projects to the fair. Joey has participated in the photography contest and promptly beat me in the ribbon placing, thus never letting me forget about it. I still suffer from BDBSS - Being Beaten by Son Syndrome - and NHTEOFS - Never Hearing the End of It Syndrome.

Russell built a bird house one year and earned a purple ribbon. Yes, he and Steve were putting the finishing touches on it the week before the fair, but at least it wasn't the night before. He earned the purple ribbon because the judge was able to recognize that Russell actually built the project with Steve's supervision. The paint job was less than stellar.

Each year, since that year with successful projects, they have chosen their project areas and have never stepped outside the box of showing animals.

It's so relaxing!

Joey and Russell had to pack all the necessary supplies and transport it to the fairgrounds Wednesday morning. They packed sawdust, straw, milking supplies, the show box and a gabillion other things.

I asked Russell, "Is there a nozzle packed for the water hose and washing animals?"

"Yes, Mother," he snipped. (Please note my name in that statement. It's Mother, not Mom.)

The only equipment I packed was paper towels and rags and that was after they asked me to pack them. According to my notes from last year, we needed to have them in the show box. Why they are on the list is a mystery.

While Joey and Russell were preparing the animals at the fairgrounds Wednesday morning, I asked Russell for a nozzle for the hose so I could help Zack wash his animal.

"We don't have one," Russell snipped again. "It's on the list to bring tomorrow!"

I didn't say a word, although every fiber of my being was screaming, "I told you so!"

I also held my tongue when I received a phone call asking me to bring the clipper in to town. How do you forget to pack the one most-important piece of show equipment?

Well, I thought I washed my hands of all those responsibilities.

For questions, or comments, e-mail me at



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