The Fair is normally a tiresome, stressful yet memory making experience for parents and kids. As a kid, I loved the fair. It was the one time in the summer, that we could go to town and “hang out” for the week. It was a big deal!
We show pigs which all of the pig show took place in one fast placed day due to COVID requirements. COVID took the stress level up a few notches. Between all the changes to the fair schedule, changes to requirements, rules, updates, etc. trying to keep up on all of them on top of working and/or caring for a family is almost impossible and I was a 10 year 4-H member! I know how this program rolls and it still was beyond challenging for us!
I kept thinking in my head “we can do this” over and over as we loaded, unloaded, penned, showed and loaded back up all in one day. That is a lot for pigs and kids (and parents) but yet an opportunity to show which many kids did not have this year to many fairs closing/canceling.
What I learned this year, thanks to COVID:
- We can survive and function with COVID. It is not easy and brings challenges, but flexibility is key and as long as I stay calm, the kids stay calm.
- A lot of good people, who tried hard to follow all the changes in rules, schedules, requirements, what goes online, what does not, etc., tried their best. I don’t think that anyone shows up to the fair determined to break the rules or COVID guidelines. Most are trying super hard to do what is safe, fair and right.
- My heart hurts for the 10 year 4-H members and the 1st year members. For the 10 year members, this past spring has been disappointing and the Fair adds to that experience however, there was opportunity to show and complete. For 1st year members, talk about chaos coming into a program that at times, is not user friendly and trying to feel your way through it! My advice, is to stick with it and find someone, another 4-H parent to help you through. After the fair, you might consider starting a 1st year parent support group.
- The Fair is the Fair: nothing replaced the excitement and pride my kids felt as they came into the fairgrounds, riding in a pick-up truck, pulling a trailer full of pigs. I remember that feeling as a kid and a teenage. They loved the fair regardless, they loved showing pigs, and always learn and grow from it.
- IT TAKES A VILLAGE. We could not show livestock without help, support and physical help. I pull a trailer and can’t back up a trailer. I can’t jump fences, chase down pigs, etc. right now. It takes a group of supportive, loving, caring family members to help get us there and through the show. For that, I am thankful for my loving family.
We survived to tell our story and share our experiences. I needed about a week to recoup which will not happen. All kids and pigs are accounted for, which is half the battle. The need for a 4H parent tent with air condition, cold water, and no kids allowed signs, is a must (with social distancing of course).