I love the month of August in Indiana because it is when “the 17 greatest days of summer” take place during the Indiana State Fair.
This year, the State Fair held a little more significance for me because besides attending it to cover stories for the newspaper and celebrate the Heroes of the Heartland, which was the fair’s theme, Graham, my oldest child, showed sheep at the State Fair for the first time.
Now, I know I have talked about Graham being in 4-H and showing sheep and the lessons I have learned as a 4-H mom in previous blogs, but this one is different.
For those who may not be familiar with how the sheep show works at the Indiana State Fair, market lambs and breeding stock show at two different times. Market lambs go in the first week of the fair, while the breeding stock show takes place during the second.
Since it is only his first year, my parents and I decided that Graham would only take his four Southdown ewes to the fair for the breeding stock portion of the sheep show.
By doing this, though, my son would have to miss a few days of school because due to the rotating school calendar that many school corporations adopted several years ago, the State Fair and the start back to school for many students throughout Indiana takes place at the same time.
The day that breeding stock could be moved into the fairgrounds just so happened to be Graham’s first day of school with the two following days being the showmanship contest and the day of the actual breeding stock show.
After consulting with my parents and Graham, we decided that it would be best for Graham to go to the first day of fourth grade, so he could meet his teacher and get to know his classmates, but he would miss the following two days to show his sheep.
Although I agreed with this plan and supported it 100%, I’m not going to lie it was a little hard to wake up on my kid’s first day of school to make sure they got there by 7 a.m. for drop-off and then head to the barn as soon as I got home to load my son’s four ewes onto the trailer.
Once at the fair, in between waiting two hours to unload, vet checks and paper registration checks, I also had to wash, blow dry and blanket the ewes.
My son’s sheep pens were close to the show arena and on the end of an aisle, which allowed for me to have many conversations with visitors to the fair who were walking through the sheep barn.
From ranging to little children wanting to pet them, which I was more than happy to oblige with this request, to individuals who didn’t come from an agriculture background wanting to know why we sheared the sheep and what we did with the wool afterwards.
What I found incredible was how much the fairgoers were interested in learning about sheep, and almost every person that stopped to talk with me would also tell me to wish my son good luck.
As my son continues to show in the future, I look forward to having more of these interactions with people and advocating for the agriculture industry.