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

White pants: dairy's hottest fashion trend

By Krista [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

This is the time of year when white pants become the hottest fashion trends for dairy kids at county fairs. It also means show halters, the smell of fresh shavings and straw along with fun with friends and family.
Even though I know that the white pants and shirt worn in the showring represent milk and symbolizes cleanliness, it sometimes seemed silly to wear white when I knew I would end up with cow slobber all over me or a red spot from the pizza sauce from lunch. Despite this, it always makes the show look uniform and there's a sense of pride I feel when I get to wear my show whites.
There has always been a pair of white pants in my closet, although in my earlier days, they were only meant for one occasion - showing my cows at the fair. (Now white pants are a little more stylish than what they used to be so I have another pair to wear beyond the showring.)
My first pair of white "pants" was actually shorts. Since the dairy fashion was hard to find back in my first showing days, my mom resorted to the next best thing. I'm sure my mom wanted to keep her then 3-year-old as cool as possible during what is usually a very hot and muggy county fair. It's also less clothing to get dirty!
As my three siblings and I got older, the shopping seemed to get harder. White pants were still not popular with the rest of the world. If we were out shopping - no matter the time of year - we would almost shout, "White pants!" if we spotted any. Of course we had to try them on to see if they could work for the next year if we knew we needed a new pair.
Because of this style stumper, my mom decided to keep any and all white pants that came into our house. All the show pants and some of the showing shirts were put into a box and kept in my closet to be used year after year. When Kelly grew out of her pants, we kept them to see if I could use them. When I was too tall for the white pants I wore, we handed them down to my cousins. Taking that box out of the closet every year got me excited for the show, even if it was only a small part of taking animals to the fair.
Even beyond 4-H, I have stashed a pair of white pants in my closet to take out during show season. We have usually had one or two extra animals to show at the District I Holstein show or at the open class show at the Minnesota State Fair.
However, at this year's Olmsted County Fair, my white pants didn't make an appearance. Things got hectic and the midweek show seemed to sneak up on me. Plus, I was busy working with the Miracle of Birth Center in the next building over. Although I ended up helping get the animals ready for the ring, I realized after the show that I missed being at the halter of an animal circling the judge.
Showing was never about the white pants or even earning the highest ribbon. It was about having fun and being with family. Throughout my childhood, showing always incorporated my siblings and my cousins. We worked together and got things done. But we also had fun in between feeding the cows, sweeping the aisle and picking up the manure piles behind the cows. There were usually enough people to form a few card games around the show box or to go out and find our next favorite flavors of shaved ice.
Showing was also about sharing my knowledge. It's part of the reason why showmanship was my favorite part of the day in 4-H. As a last-minute prep, I would ask my mom and dad to quiz me on what I knew before I went in the ring. Showing helped me learn more about the dairy industry. When I wasn't in the showring, showing helped me teach others about cows. While waiting for my cows to milk in the county fair's milking parlor, I would talk to people and answer any of their questions. Most people lived in town and had no idea about how to milk a cow or where milk came from. I would also stop and talk to people while I practiced leading my animals outside. Many young kids wanted to pet my animals or at least wanted to see them up close. I loved that interaction with others. They usually were truly amazed at the beautiful animals I was proud to say were cared for on our farm.
Most importantly, showing is what helped spark our interest in the dairy industry. I feel this might also be true for many others since the novice calf class is usually the largest and most attended class of the night during the District I Holstein Show at the Olmsted County Fair. Usually the class has many kids who don't live on farms, but have ties to the industry through their parents - another indication that we're helping keep that dairy industry spark alive.
I know my white pants are still in my closet, still folded from the year before. But next year I want them to make a comeback if I can. Hopefully I'll be able to jump back into dairy's hottest fashion scene with my white pants.
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