Casa Verde de La Feria

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Our little green fish house – which we affectionately refer to as Casa Verde – has a new purpose in life.

Last summer, Casa Verde became our county fair headquarters. With three full-fledged 4-Hers and three shows during the fair, we decided we needed a space of our own on the fairgrounds. We reserved one of the camping lots close to the dairy barn, and Casa Verde became Casa Verde de La Feria.

By the end of our county fair, we found ourselves questioning why we hadn’t made the decision years earlier. (Isn’t that how all good decisions go?) Here’s why:

1. We had all of our stuff in one place. Showing dairy cattle requires so much gear. Some of it we keep in tack boxes by our cattle, but a good bit of it we don’t – white clothes, show halters, fitting equipment and supplies, etc. In the past, our minivan was the backup storage space, which became problematic if I forgot to shuffle gear around before leaving the fair. Having the kids’ gear in a stationary spot saved us a number of headaches.

2. We had our own changing room. On show days, there’s usually a line for the bathrooms because everyone is changing into their show whites. When our kids were little, they just changed in the back of the van. They’ve long since outgrown that option. Casa Verde was the perfect solution.

3. We had a kitchen (of sorts) away from home. Since we had more space at the fair, we filled a large cooler and a large tote with groceries for the week. We all enjoyed having non-fair fare available. I enjoyed not having to remember sandwiches and snacks every morning of the fair. And I’m pretty sure the money we saved by packing our own food more than paid for the camping fee.

4. We had a place to rest. I think every fair parent can agree that fair week is one of the longest weeks of the year. Days filled with non-stop activity, usually coupled with heat and humidity, make for exhausted kids – and parents! In the past, our only place to nap was at home, and nobody ever wanted to leave the excitement of the fair long enough to drive home for a nap. Last year, Casa Verde was used regularly for naps, and everyone finished the fair a little less exhausted.

I should add that we’re lucky to live close enough to our fairgrounds to drive home every night, which made for cool and comfortable sleeping, since Casa Verde is not air conditioned.

Two additional benefits of designating Casa Verde for fair use that we didn’t anticipate were post-fair transport and off-season fair storage.

Like re-packing your suitcase at the end of a trip, it always seems there’s more gear to fit into the vehicles and trailers at the end of the fair than there was going to the fair. Casa Verde doubled as an extra trailer for everything from tack boxes to feed pans.

Once we were home, we ended up using Casa Verde as a storage space for some of the smaller totes of fair gear and our stall decorations.

Our larger gear – feed tubs, drinking cups, footboards, etc. – goes in the Show House. Like Casa Verde, the Show House was repurposed last year to accommodate our kids’ show stuff. The Show House used to be their playhouse; then it became a catch-all storage shed. After several years of hunting for show gear the week before the fair, I decided all of the show stuff needed a place of its own. Now, instead of the tack box going in the garage and the wheelbarrow going in the granary and the tubs going in the playhouse, everything is in one place. Again, a change we should have made years ago.

Casa Verde will return to the fair again this year – but even better following some off-season improvements. We picked up a used cabinet for one wall that will serve as snack storage. The cabinet’s countertop will provide a much-needed surface for preparing food. We extended the tiny sleeping bench to accommodate a full-sized mattress. There’s enough room under the bed for each kid to store a clothesbasket with all of their fair clothes. And Glen’s mom made us new curtains, complete with Holstein-cow-print edging.

Knowing that we’ll literally have all of our stuff together makes me feel a little more together as we roll into county fair week.

Good luck to all of you entering exhibits in your own county fairs. May your smiles be many!

Sadie and her husband, Glen, milk 100 cows near Melrose, Minnesota. They have three children – Dan, Monika, and Daphne. Sadie also writes a blog at www.dairygoodlife.com. She can be reached at [email protected].


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