Monday, August 10, 2009
4-H at fair time...
I must admit...I am not a fan of fairs. County, state--you name it. It is far too crowded for me. I hate the overwhelming sense of insignificance, the fear that my children will get lost, and the twenty pounds you can gain by just smelling the fried food on a stick as you hurt your back and feet walking everywhere. The Minnesota State Fair, also known as "The Great Minnesota Get Together," takes place the last two weeks of August through Labor Day. Our county does it near the middle of August--and this week is it.
We have never exhibited at the fair through 4-H or Open Class. I never did it as a kid, though I was a 4-H member and it was my favorite building to go to. I have tried finding a group for my kids a couple of times--it wasn't until this year that we all really clicked with one. I knew the kids were going to want to show, so we set the goal pretty low this year. Each did three projects--photography, space models and scrapbooking. I was fairly confident we could accomplish all that. Last weekend I was disappointed to be working on things so late--but they all got turned in today. Each person gets interviewed by a judge for each project. How daunting that must be to little ones! Great practice for grown up life. I learned this afternoon that we are not the only ones--apparently 4-H parents are all familiar with this.
After a member determines to do a project, they must register right after the hog roast in the spring. They really just sign up for everything they think they MIGHT even want to do just a little. There is no penalty for not doing it--but if a member signs up too late--they are not allowed to win a state fair trip with that project. Can you imagine what a bummer that would be? So we got ours in, even if at the very last moment.
My two older children got two blue ribbons and one red each. My youngest brought home three blues. I am really proud of them. We have to wait until tomorrow to see who brought home the grand and reserve champion ribbons of the county. We will also have to submit our things for open class. My daughter, husband and I are all submitting exhibits. We are really excited!! Who would have ever known? I am still not a fan of crowds or the wafting smells of fried foods, but maybe it will have a new perspective for us.
It was funny, when we got home the kids were already chattering and I explained that if they wanted to do vegetables or baking we could actually do it if we weren't stressed about getting other projects done that could be done at another time. Maybe it would be more fun for them too. I think that showing at the fair is more than just ribbons. Oh, I don't kid myself into thinking that it isn't a motivator for them. I just think that the payoff is encouraging them to do the work in the first place.
Even my husband got into the spirit this weekend by helping make 4-H symbols for the GPS hunt that is new at the fair. I think the spirit may become contagious. My youngest asked why we never showed stuff when my husband and I were kids. I guess I never even thought about it--I think I knew it would never happen. The thought of showing never crossed my mind--not once. My husband grew up in the cities near the fairgrounds and he went every year, but showing wasn't one of the things kids around him did. I think open class is kind of our chance to join in the fun. My children have asked repeatedly to go to the state fair and I have never relented; perhaps it would be a chance to be inspired for next year's projects.