Well, for my family, it’s another county fair in the books.
This morning my 11 year-old son sold his market lamb in front of dozens of generous friends, family and businesses at the annual junior fair livestock sale.
I wished I could have seen all the people who bid on his project, but my eyes were all clouded up and my sunglasses were firmly in place.
OK. I cried. I cry every year. Heck, I cry if it’s not even my own kid.
Yet, Evan was the strong one this year. Sure, he was sad the fair was over, but he calmly handed me his halter after loading up Gloria and asked when he could go get pizza.
I cried again. Empty. Halter. Ugh.
So we went and cleaned out pens and got Ellie settled before she headed back to the breeder’s farm. I never had that luxury as a kid.
We loaded up the stand, the fair box and his 4-H sign. Evan said good-bye to Ellie and calmly walked out of the barn.
I cried. Again.
How can the kid eat pizza after this emotional day?
I guess the source of my tears is because I’m so proud of him, just like I’m so proud of all these great kids.
Our 4-H goals weren’t lofty by any means. For example, this year Evan showed without using a halter. This was his goal because it isn’t easy to control a 130-pound four-legged freight train. Yet, another year and another 20 pounds of weight to help control them helps a lot.
Right before the show, I couldn’t help but keep asking, “Are you sure you want to go out there without a halter?” Yes. Mom.
And he did. And he did it well.
Months of practice had paid off. He no longer looked clueless out there in the show ring. Sure he has a lot of work left to do, but he’s not the little boy who would pet the lamb’s head, hug it around its neck or stand there and talk to it in the ring.
What a difference a year makes.
Yep. He’s growing up.
And, yep. I cried. Again.
OK, enough of this sappy stuff. We did have a great time the rest of the week, which didn’t involve any Kleenex.
My twin sister came into town for a few days. She managed to confuse dozens of people who thought I simply ignored them. If this was the case, she is so sorry.
I also got to visit with my oldest sister for like 45 minutes when she stopped through town. Evan rode the rides and spent late hours hanging out with his best friend. That’s what fair is all about.
There were several firsts during this annual fair for me as well. It was the first time I went to bed before midnight. It was the first time I had ever taken a shower at the fair, which was an experience in and of itself. That took me back to my college dorm room days — in more ways than one.
It also was the first time I did adult showmanship. My son’s lambs were only a pound a part, meaning they were put in the same class in a couple of shows. This meant Evan had asked his fellow 4-H club member Anthony to help show the lambs this year. Evan’s 4-H adviser Abbi (who also is Anthony’s mother) jokingly said we could borrow her son to show only if I signed the two of us up for adult showmanship.
So I did. So I took a picture of the sign-up sheet outside of the sheep office and said I’d see them in the morning. She didn’t think I was serious.
We both hadn’t shown a lamb in more than 15 years. What was there to lose beside a few pounds due to the sweltering heat.
To be honest I was nervous. So much has changed in the decade-and-a-half. The show style has changed tremendously over the years. So much so, that I would argue with my dad how the 1970s old-school sheep showing style he was teaching Evan how to show was so absurd and out-dated.
And guess what. This year’s showmanship judge liked the old-school style. I hate when my dad is right, but there was no way I could have bent down next to my lamb that afternoon. I would have never been able to get back up.
The best part? Was seeing all the young kids watching their parents in the ring for a change. The smiles were priceless.
All in all, it was a great week. Evan did well in his classes, he showed more confidence and maturity and he is looking forward to next year’s project.
Which means, I’ll be needed to replace the empty box of tissues in the fair box. Again.
“Twin” Melanie Yingst appears on Fridays in the Troy Daily News. Along with the Kleenex, she’ll have to pack IcyHot and asprin if she attempts to show again next year.