September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

County fair time

By Natalie Schmitt- | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

You have to love county fair week. It is the only time where extra work, little sleep, eating burgers and cheesy fries and traveling over 500 miles in six days passing the same billboards is considered a vacation. County fair is when we move the farm to town to hang out with other farm families. We sit on hard bleachers, slurping down ice cream shakes as we watch our families compete. County fair is kind of like our version of summer league baseball playoffs as the kids vie for a trip to the World Series or the state fair.
Ruth is bopping through the barns humming from the Sound of Music, but it is "the barns are alive with the sound of mooosic. With songs they have moooed for a million years." She's working on the rest of the verses.
Neighbors congregate around the show ring keeping one eye on the judge's placings while talking about the challenges of farming this summer with high humidity and frequent rains. They may not always agree with the judge's placings, but they agree that the county will have to spend more money to cut the road ditches at least twice this summer.
Regardless of where we grew up, we share similar county fair memories and events. Summer fair romances between pre-drivers. Friday night tractor pulls and Sunday afternoon demo derbies. A walk around the mid-way with a stop at the ring-toss game. Racing up the rock wall at the National Guard booth or ringing the bell with a mighty swing of the mallet. Hanging out with friends on the show box playing cards and sharing a funnel cake with the crowd. Playing cards all day long and cooling off with the annual water balloon fight or dunking in the stock tank.
I think one of the reasons we keep coming back the to county fair is to keep that "young at heart" feeling pounding through our bodies. That was very evident on Sunday during the open dairy show. It was a great, relaxing day watching the kids take their animals back out again. Katie opted to hand out ribbons as a dairy ambassador instead of dressing in show whites. Barry Visser put the kids through their paces in the different classes. It seemed to be just another typical show day, but this show ended with a bang.
The show wrapped up the day with a new contest, an "Old Timers" showmanship contest. Former dairy kids and those who wished they could have been dairy kids, stepped into their past glory days as they entered the ring to a cheering crowd of on-lookers. It seemed like the showmen picked up a slight spring to their step as they adjusted the lead strap in their hand. The slow, methodic pace helped them from stumbling over their feet as they adjusted to learning to walk forwards and not backwards. The crowd was three rows deep along the rail as their children, nieces, nephews and neighbors strained to get a better view of history repeating itself. But wait; was it the sound of cheering and encouragement or laughter and taunting filling the show arena?
The 4-H Senior Dairy Showmanship winner, Katie Schmitt, with help from Barry Visser, served as this class's special judge. One by one she kicked contestants out of the ring as she tried to whittle down the class size. The pressure was mounting. Would the judge show favoritism toward her father? Could her father live up to all of the show advice he had given her over the years? Who would walk away the winner? Larry Popp made honorable mention, Mark was reserve and Keith Hackett won the honored title of "Old Timer Showman." Katie said they needed to practice a bit more before she'd put them back on the halter.
As the sound of laughter, music and animals from the fair are stored away for another year, new sounds fill the house. The sound of dirty show whites sloshing around in the washing machine provide background noise, punctuated by the occasional snort and snore as the kids catch up on much needed sleep before they return to the reality of summer on the farm, with third cutting hay to bale and stack and dreams of state fair reunions as another memorable summer comes to a close.
Natalie, Mark and his brother, Al, Schmitt farm together near Rice, Minn. They milk 100 registered Holsteins under the RALMA prefix. Their four children are great help around the farm and are pushing Natalie out of several jobs. Therefore she is thankful to have something else to do. For questions or comments please e-mail Natalie at [email protected].[[In-content Ad]]


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