Each year after the conclusion of another Texas County Fair, I end up with the same feelings of amazement and satisfaction.
During the fair’s four-day run, my hair gets dusty and my clothes get dirty, and by the time Saturday evening rolls around I’m pretty well tired and spent. But at the same time, I’m inevitably left with memories of umpteen special moments and situations – along with hundreds of cool photographs to document them.
Ever since the Texas County Fair and its livestock-oriented activities came into existence in the early 1950s, one of its primary missions has been to promote local agriculture and support youth involvement in the field. For the past eight summers, watching that mission be carried out has been a real “eye-opener” for me.
It just takes so dang many people (of the volunteer variety) following the same path and looking toward the same goal. These days, you rarely see sizable examples of such like-mindedness and accord, but here in Texas County it’s a recurring theme on an annual basis with regard to the fair.
And, of course, that boils down to the efforts of an aptly-named organization called the Texas County Fair Board. While it might at times resemble a Chinese fire drill or an outtake from a Keystone Cops movie, what the group sets out to accomplish and ultimately pulls off is of immense proportion and magnitude.
And it’s not like they begin in April and finish in July. For a lot of these folks, the fair takes up a significant chunk of time year round.
The bottom line is, the fair is there for me and a whole lot of other people to partake in and enjoy without concerning ourselves with the zillions of behind-the-scenes aspects that all require attention.
I’ve said of the fair board in the past and I’ll say it again: What you do doesn’t go unnoticed, well done by all, and thank you.
Anyway, this year’s fair was by no means out of the ordinary – which, as I told a friend, meant it was once again extraordinary.
From the sheep showing on day one (Wednesday), to the Junior Livestock Sale on day four (Saturday), I was unable to identify a single dull moment during the event.
Of course, some moments topped others, like the always humorous, cute and popular sheep and goat fashion show (which this year was on Thursday evening). I’m telling you, the get-ups in that show are great, and range from noticeably creative to downright silly. To recall a few of my favorites this year:
•A young girl was dressed like she was ready for a swim in the lake, and her goat was wearing sweet swim trunks and was outfitted with a floatie ring.
•A teenage girl was dressed as “Thing One” (from Cat in the Hat fame) and her goat was “Thing Two.”
•There were several super heroes with their furry quadruped sidekicks, including Superman, Wonderwoman and Spiderman (interestingly, Spidy was teamed with Batman the Goat).
All four days, I was glad that long-time arena announcer Scott Long (who has loads of experience in the ag-education realm as a teacher and FFA adviser) was back behind the microphone. I even told him I’m not sure what it would be like if some other voice was letting people know which class of beef was up next, or whose market hog just took the blue ribbon in the previous “drive.”
Thankfully, he said he intends to keep doing it – Lord willing.
And speaking of showing animals in the arena, several of the judges once again hailed from Southwest Oklahoma State University (in Weatherford, Okla.). As I found out the other day, the school has a “judging team” that actually competes against other schools’ judging teams. I’m told that at some of the bigger, national shows, the judges are judged by other judges on how they judge.
One observation I made about the gentlemen from SWOSU is they each spoke quite clearly and eloquently. Once they had observed animals in a given category, they would grab the arena’s cordless microphone and proceed to explain what made one animal stand out, what another might be lacking and generally describe why they reached their conclusions.
But what struck me was their concise, clear delivery, which made hearing and understanding much easier for us once-a-year livestock experts. Speech must be part of what judges judge judges on in judging competition.
And, of course, there was the annual Junior Livestock Sale on Saturday afternoon.
Right away, it was nice to see auctioneer Rick Dixon once again plying the trade he’s so good at. He took turns with Darren Scheets and Darren’s son, Jake, “barking” and pointing and getting the most out of more than 130 sales.
Also nice was that proceeds from several animals sold went to the family of Dixon’s son, Justin, who as we know was recently the victim of a horrific accident. Prices went a bit high on some of those and the applause at the end of the bidding was a bit ramped up. No shame in that – on the contrary, it was the result of real, heartfelt emotion.
As I was leaving the arena Saturday evening, I was talking with one of Houston’s many long-time businessmen.
“There’s no small community in the country that supports their youth in agriculture like happens here,” he said.
Think about that. If you ask me, that’s pretty cool.
Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald.