There’s nothing like a county fair to remind those of us in the agriculture industry about our past, how rewarding the present can be and how our future is in the hands of our youths.
I was fortunate enough to be able to spend a lot of time at the 2012 Routt County Fair and was privileged to peek at the roots of the communities in and around our county. I recognized several families who have been involved in this event for generations as well as others who are new. Around the livestock barn, kids ages 8 to 18 were caring for their animals, getting them ready for the show. While they occupied various locations around the barn, I saw generations of families, kids, parents, grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles sitting, visiting, preparing and helping. It is a special time to focus on our children and our future; it is family at its best. Neighbors, friends and co-workers attend to show their support of the young people who have worked all summer and sometimes for almost a year to prepare their animal for this event.
The county fair is the culmination of months of planning, accounting and responsibility for a project. Kids involved in the livestock portion of the fair are judged on their own showmanship skills as well as on their animals. It is a mixed bag of emotions for these kids and their families. If ever there were a demonstration of “sometimes you win, sometimes you lose,” this is it. Some kids work hard on their projects and don’t get a ribbon. One of the most important lessons learned at the fair is how to lose gracefully and how to win modestly. In my several years of involvement, these young people continue to astound me with their true sportsmanship and consideration for animals and for others.
The county fair would not be the life-enhancing, lesson-teaching and rewarding experience it is if it weren’t for the businesses and individuals who have been supporting it for nearly a century. They sponsor awards, they donate supplies and they purchase the animals at the auction or directly through the 4-H participants.
The energy in the room leading up to the livestock auction is palpable. The kids are excited to show off their animals, and the live bidding process is fun and hints of a long tradition. These are the elements of a community that supports its youths and the agricultural heritage it was based on. These are the same elements that place the responsibility of carrying on the torch of the livestock industry in capable hands of the next generation.
Thank you to the kids who take the time and effort to raise an animal, thank you to the countless people who organize the fair and thank you to the people and businesses who support this uniquely important event.
Christy Belton is the president of Routt County CattleWomen. She helps her husband raise cattle in the Elk River Valley.