Year after year, the Texas County Fair proves to be an amazing event, and this year’s 71st edition was no exception.

Whether it’s the smell of animal feed and fur, the goat and sheep vocals, the belly laughs shared by adults swapping stories (and fables), or the countless other unique aspects of fair week, there’s hardly anything about the event that I don’t appreciate and enjoy.

Here are a handful of observations following the 2021 fair.

•Reconnecting is fun.

Each year during fair week, I can count on seeing many people who I make contact with only during that particular week.

And honestly, I find that to be pretty cool. It’s kind of a “rural America” thing, with people of all ages gathering for the purpose of focusing on kids and animals for a while. There’s a special camaraderie that circulates and a certain atmosphere that can be felt.

And they’re both extraordinary.

•Kids grow fast.

Some of those people who I see once a year are the kids who show the animals.

And wow, sometimes it’s like seeing a whole new person. A year can add a lot of height to some kids, and their vocabulary can advance like crazy!

Last week, I got into a conversation with a young man who asked a bunch of questions about covering sports for the newspaper. A couple of years ago, the same kid was still just a timid little tyke whose voice I don’t think I had ever heard.

It was truly a pleasure to hang out and talk with him that way.

•There’s a lot to know about comparing livestock.

Every year when I listen to judges elaborate to the crowd about their viewpoints of animals being judged, I’m amazed and impressed by the depth and detail of their explanations.

It’s not enough for a goat, sheep or steer to just parade around the arena, or for a rabbit or chicken to simply be adorable. They must have a certain shape to their backs, legs and other parts of their bodies, and their overall appearance must display a particular form of development.

I always like hearing the terminology used in judges’ comments. It’s like there’s a language specific to the craft where a goat might be referred to as “steep hipped” or “narrow pinned,” a pig might be described as “belted” or “loosely constructed,” or one steer might have better “skeletal organization” than another.

I might never actually utter such phrases in a conversation with my wife or a friend, but I never get tired of hearing them.

•Temperatures can get pretty high in Missouri in July.

Ya think?

Oh man, was last week ever a good example of that. I mean, we all have our stories of enduring that confounded oppressive heat and humidity.

In the livestock barns at the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce Fairgrounds, survival wasn’t just a buzzword in jokes, but more of a very real consideration. Thank God for the giant fans the Texas County Fair Board has installed in recent years in strategic locations around the barns. Sure, in conditions like we saw last week, the fans more or less just blow hot air around. But without them, it would have been almost unbearable. I’ll take 97-degree moving air over 97-degree stagnant air every time.

•Small animals are cute.

No matter how old I get, I’ll always like being around little animals.

The fair always offers a chance to be immersed in that realm. Whether it’s baby goats, mini-Rex rabbits or bottle calves, I love the presence of small animals and the opportunity to just go “aaawww” out loud.

•Some things are just fair things.

Speaking of unique aspects, there are some that help make the Texas County Fair what it is more than others.

One of those is the voice of long-time arena announcer Scott Long. I told him this year that I had a hard time imagining attending a livestock showing competition in Houston without his voice spelling out who was in the ring and what category was being contested.

He said something along the lines of “I love it, but I can’t do this forever.”

That’s obviously true, but it’s still too bad.

Anyway, Lord willin’, I’ll see you at the 72nd annual Texas County Fair in 2022. And I predict it will be a good time.

Doug Davison

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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