Miami County Fair always brings back a wealth of memories for anyone who has participated in its activities.
It has been a roller coaster ride of emotions the whole week, but the memories are ones that last forever. I’m sure glad I brought an extra pair of sunglasses to hide my tears of joy, frustration and appreciation this week.
Throughout the summer months of working with Evan with his lambs — Nibbles and Zane — I tried to recall my own 10 year-old self during my 4-H days.
I can still clearly recall most of my early days of taking lambs to the fair along with my twin sister.
She always beat me in the class. One year, I was super jealous that she won reserve Division Champion along with my fair crush Wes Elifritz.
I also remember her getting really sick from the Scrambler after the show was done.
The Queen still likes to tease me about how she still remembers my sister and I sobbing uncontrollably after we sold our lambs when we were in grade school. I can still remember my first year lambs’ ear tag numbers — 123 and 142.
Crazy how those things can still be burned in to our brains.
One summer evening as Evan and I walked Nibbles and Zane down and back the lane, Evan told me he wanted to “take a year off” from 4-H.
Well, that’s not an option at our house. I did give him the option of trying a different animal project, but he came around and said he’d take lambs again next year.
It’s not easy taking an animal to the fair. It’s expensive, it’s hard work for several months and there’s tough competition every year.
But I hope him winning a blue ribbon on Monday morning also helped make fair week a little bit more fun.
Getting ready for the show was a frantic flurry of activity of washing, clipping and mentally preparing a 10 year-old kid who was exhausted from playing much too late with his friends.
I was nervous for Evan that I only allowed myself to watch the end of the show and I was stunned to see he was in the top three in his class.
And then he won. And then I put my sunglasses on and cried.
It was the coolest thing to see his face as the young girl passed him his first-ever blue ribbon.
Thankfully, Evan’s dad video recorded it so I could watch six whole nerve racking minutes of my life unfold without big tears clouding my eyes. I also was able to send the video to my twin sister who was on vacation who was upset that she missed her nephew’s big moment.
She said she cried too.
At the Miami County Fair, there are no “homely” animals in any of the barns. At every hog show, cow show and even chicken show, the theme of each judge seemed to say the same thing over and over.
There are top quality kids showing quality animals no matter if they are first or last in the class. So when anyone wins, especially your own kid, it’s a pretty big deal.
The best part of the week was everyone who stopped and congratulated Evan on his first-ever win. To me, that was the coolest part of the whole fair. And it made me tear up all over again.
We also spent time watching Evan’s best friend Mason show his pig. We cheered and gave high fives after the show. And I teared up when he won, too.
That’s what it is really all about. Each and every time you can tell a young person “great job”, no matter where they placed, is worth all the time, the hard work, the whining and tears and the celebratory hug when it’s all said and done.
And to all the community’s buyers, whether you spent $25 or $20,000 at this year’s county livestock sale, thank you for supporting these hard working kids.
Because they’ll always remember who helped them get to the fair — Mom, Dad, grandparents, breeders and buyers.
I was the proud mom in the corner with her sunglasses on to hide my tears of appreciation.
Melanie Yingst appears on Fridays in the Troy Daily News. We’ll see you at the 2015 Miami County Fair!