Ever since I was a little girl, one of my absolute favorite parts of summer has been going to the State Fair. But it has nothing to do with the carnival rides, elephant ears, other fried delicacies or even the Grandstand entertainment.
It has everything to do with showing cows.
Huh? What did you say!? I said … showing cows.
For anyone who doesn’t show cows, I can imagine it would difficult to fathom the thrill of leading a cow around an arena to be judging on its confirmation. But ever since my family bought my first Jersey calf (her name was Shirley – see photo below) when I was a first-year 4-Her, I have been breeding and raising my own herd of registered Jersey dairy cattle – you know, the cute lil’ brown cows!
So for me, it’s all about the genetics and putting all the hard work of the past year up against your competitors. And in Indiana, the competition is fierce, especially for Jerseys. But aside from the thrill of competition, there is the camaraderie among your fellow exhibitors. These are folks who are not just cattle folk, they are friends. Friends you look forward to seeing every year at the same place – the State Fair. When I was growing up, these friends taught me how to play euchre, and oftentimes helped get me into no-good trouble. Now these friends are married and starting families of their own.
As I looked back in my archived photos for this blog post, all the memories from the Ohio State Fair came flooding back in. My first crush, my first ribbon, winning showmanship, serving as the Ohio Jersey Queen, playing cards until the wee hours of the morning, washing heifers at 4 a.m., the junior Jersey pizza party, water fights and the year we got so much rain that water started flooding into the barn.
Since I married a Hoosier farm boy, I began showing my Jerseys (as an adult) at the Great Indiana State Fair and have made a ton of new friends here. I love my Indiana dairy friends and I seriously heart the Great Indiana State Fair … not for the fair food (although the Pork Tent and Dairy Bar is a must-stop on a daily basis for me) or for the fair entertainment … but for the cow-showin’ good time spent with great friends and my family.
Did I happen to mention … this year will be Baby RayRay’s (my one-year-old daughter) first State Fair ever – to say I’m excited to see her toddling down the aisles of the cattle barn would be a supreme understatement!