Surviving the Fair

I survived: the projects, being the 4-H project Nazi; critiquing and scrutinizing the quality of my kids’ projects, the big push to finish due to the time crunch, and resisting requests to let them drop a project in the end. I survived getting my kids through Achievement Days!
I can’t believe how much better my back feels. I knew the weight of the upcoming fair and unfinished projects was a heavy load I was packing, but I was amazed at how much better I felt Wednesday morning. The kids’ projects were all ready for interview judging by Tuesday. I woke up feeling energized and not so tired and drained from browbeating my kids to finish up their projects. I didn’t wake up feeling pinned down from the pressure, or sapped from nagging my kids about the projects they didn’t have done yet. It drained me getting them to take over the guilt about their projects not being done or harsh motivation to get them to take responsibility, pride and care in doing their projects.
The entire drive down to the fair, a calm and peacefulness washed over me. The whole day was like that and each day afterwards. I couldn’t get over how great I felt having the worry of 4-H projects to finish behind us. Getting through Achievement Days was the last big event for the summer that I had to survive. By Wednesday, they were so prepared that we all scurried around the house looking for non-4-H project stuff we’d made that we could enter in open class.
Interview judging at our county fair takes place in a big Quonset building that doesn’t have air conditioning and doesn’t circulate air very good either. Kids were standing in lines holding their projects waiting for their turn with flush-red faces and perspiration along their hairlines and necks. Like every Achievement Days at the Custer County Fair, it was a hot bugger. By mid afternoon, the youngest 4-Hers looked tired and listless instead of peppy, alert and interested. After long waits in lines, once the little kids set down to be interviewed, their eyes would wonder around until the judge would lure them back with a question about their project. I assisted the Foods and Nutrition judge and I think the heat caused amnesia in the Junior 4-Hers because there were a lot of blank looks, shrugs, “I don’t know,” or “I’m not sure,” type responses to some of the judge’s questions.
When the kids and I went back to the fair on Sunday to take in the playday rodeo and pick up all the 4-H and open class entries, I laughed to myself when my son said next year he wanted to take a lot more projects. The kids both received purples and blues with 4-H (which they’ll get their premium money for at a later date) and made money with their open class entries. They got paid for their open class entries on Sunday, which they weren’t expecting. Getting some quick cash as well as hearing how much money some of the other 4-Hers made, spurred the comment my son made about entering more next year.
Of course, once they had cash in their hand, they’d forgotten all about all the stress, my nagging and the work involved the weeks prior. Leaving the pay window, they didn’t recall that they thought I was being mean when I harped that they needed to take more time and care to make their projects look neater.
Days before the interview judging, all I heard was, “Next year I’m only taking three projects.” All the way home on Sunday, there was talk about signing up for more projects and setting up a schedule throughout the school year to work on 4-H projects for next year. I remember hearing that same conversation before. In judging how last year’s goals for working on 4-H stuff went, I’m fairly certain I know how that project will turn out.

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