Sad moment. Okay, I'm better.
Even though I must be in West Lafayette this week instead of at the county fair, it does give me cause to look back over the wonderful memories I've made as a 4-H member. Highlights include (but are not limited to!):
- 3-time Grand Champion Swine Showman
- Winning Junior, Intermediate, and Senior Swine Showman
- Winning Intermediate Sheep Showman
- Grand Champion Pen of Hogs
- multiple Grand and Reserve Champion Homebred Hogs
- two-year 4-H court member
- Champion Sweepstakes Showman
- Winning Junior, Intermediate, and Senior Sweepstakes Showman, and
- member of the GREAT Flynn Hustlers 4-H Club
We are in an age where American agriculture and rural life is under constant fire and criticism. It's good to know that, in Michigan, we still have examples like the county fair to put both of those things on a pedastal of greatness. I, for one, can think of very few places I'd rather be on a hot, sticky summer day than in the barn feeding pigs and shearing lambs. After a show, I once heard someone refer to it as "heaven on Earth".
I think he's right.
Not only is fair a wonderful place, but it is a location where youth learning is going on like nobody's business. Whether you are using your head, heart, hands and health or you are learning to do, doing to learn, earning to live or living to serve, youth are putting their brains and their skills to good use creating projects that will benefit them for a lifetime. It's not only a swine project or crocheting. It's developing abilities and practicing dedication and putting responsibility to the test. Life skills. That is the reason for 4-H, FFA, and the county fair.
Good luck to everyone heading into their county fairs and congratulations to everyone who has already accomplished great things! Cherish your moments on those hot, dusty fairgrounds where the smell of livestock is always thick in the air (fresh air, remember!). Those days will be gone before you know it.