The Finney County Fairgrounds had a quiet lull Wednesday afternoon after 4-Hers and FFA members loaded in their animals and exhibits in the pouring rain Wednesday morning. The rain made for messy animals and muddy boots, but at least temperatures were cool.
As a 4-Her of the past, I remember extreme heat, humidity and chaos during the Marshall County Fair in northeast Kansas. From what I hear, the temperatures here usually are sweltering during the fair. In any part of Kansas, late July can be a miserable time to put on those jeans and boots.
I stopped into the barn with the most activity at the Finney County Fair Wednesday afternoon. The action seemed to be mostly in the hog and goat barn.
Cecilia Ramsey, 16, Garden City, sat in her jeans and boots on top of her goat pen and looked relaxed. She said she didn't have to have her goats, Oliver and Toby, ready to show until Friday. She arrived at the fairgrounds Wednesday morning just in time to drag her goats through the rain and mud.
"They don't like water, so they just stood outside and resisted going forward. They didn't understand they'd be inside quicker if they would have moved," Ramsey said.
Ramsey has been in 4-H for nine years, and this is her second year in the goat project. She said she prefers goats over other animal projects such as hogs because hogs can be messy and goats have such funny personalities.
She was right about that. The whole time I talked to her, Toby tried to smell me and eat my notebook. As for the mess, Ramsey had her white goats clean and pristine.
"I've actually got to wash them again because they got a little messy during the rain," she said. Ramsey said she was mostly ready for the show on Friday.
Not having experience in goat showing, I asked Ramsey what the judges look for in the goats. She told me judges like a wide, muscular chest, good legs and a straight back.
In order to prepare her goats for the fair, Ramsey makes sure they eat regularly, stay active and stay socialized.
Ramsey said she enjoys fair time because it's a great time to see friends and the animals seem to get nicer. She said there's more stress before the fair than during.
"It's a great time to relax. The work has been done and the people can enjoy themselves with their animals," she said.
Ramsey said her least favorite part of the fair is the end when she would have to sell and load her goats. The good thing is she'll have two new goats next year to drag through the mud.
On the hog side of the same barn sat Andrew Homer, 15, Holcomb. His hogs, Wilber and Bacon, laid in their pen and panted. Homer said he had to show them this morning but he didn't have too much preparation left to do for the show. His event is showmanship, in which the showman of the hogs is judged, not the hogs.
"I'll have to keep my eyes on the judge and my hog under control," he said. "Judges want you to lead the hog, not the hog to lead you."
Later in the fair, the hogs will be judged, he said. Judges look for a muscular, long pig, not too fat, he said.
"All I have to do to prepare the hogs is clip them and make sure they make weight. I might need to rinse them off," he said.
Homer said he managed to have the pigs loaded in the barn before it started raining heavily Wednesday.
Like Ramsey, Homer said it's bittersweet to see his projects go at the end of the fair.
I thought it sounded sad to have to sell your animal projects, knowing their fate.
Then again, I showed horses in 4-H. Year after year, I'd show the same horse, in the same jeans, in the same button-down shirt, in the same sweltering Kansas heat.
Staff writer Rachael Gray can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.
On the Web:
Finney County Fair: http://www.finneycountyfair.org/
Download a copy of the Finney County Fair book.