To me, all that sounds like the county fair! In about a month I will be judging my first county fair of the year and I am pretty excited. When I was a youth showing steers and dairy cows, the lessons I learned were numerous. They really have given me the independence and responsibility I need to be a successful adult today.
I have never won a showmanship class. I have never had a Supreme Champion at the county fair. My memories and lessons do not come from winning purple ribbons. They came from the people I met, the late nights and early mornings in the barn and the animals I took care of.
The reason why I judge county dairy shows is because I feel I owe the next generation as good of an experience as I had. It is disheartening to hear about county fair judges who do not give each kid a wonderful experience. It doesn’t take much, a few encouraging words along with something to work on. Taking those few extra seconds will make a huge difference in that kid’s day.
One of the most fulfilling experiences of my judging career happened last year. It was a first year showmanship class and a young lady was just having a bad day. Her calf would not cooperate and her tears just broke my heart! There is nothing harder to watch an upset show person because we have all been there and know what that is like. When I came up to her, I got down on my knee and I just talked to her. I told her that she did a wonderful job and I know her calf was not cooperating. I gave her some simple advice to help her when her calf is misbehaving.
The next time she came in the ring she was all smiles. She was so excited because she took my advice and it worked. Knowing that I helped turn a frustrating experience into a great experience for her was something I will not forget.
This is the reason why county fairs are put on. It’s not for the rides. It’s not to win a ribbon. It’s not to make some money at the end of the week. It is to create a positive experience in a person or family’s life. I hope we all remember that a few kinds works, helping someone out or just being there as a friend on a bad show day can make the difference!