Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Fair...

Tuesday night we all went to the county fair. We saw the birds, small mammals, llamas, pigs, cows, goats and sheep. We ate fair food (a currywurst, curly fries, and an elephant ear). We saw the tractors, listened to some music, and checked out the 4-H projects. And we left with big, happy grins on our faces.

You see, it was a fun time, sure. But it was more than that. For me, it was a chance to start to share with Luke and Max something that was one of my favorite childhood experiences. In the scope of my summers, the fair was HUGE. GIANT. Absolute Heaven. And since the other night, I've been trying to figure out why.

Starting in the 4th grade, I was semi-active in 4-H. First it was cooking and sewing, and after a few years, I switched to raising market hogs. Now, anyone who knows me probably recognizes that there isn't all that much I miss about country life, and I never loved the work that went into getting a pig ready to show at the fair (as my terrible showmanship record can attest). Really, it was all about that one week payoff at the beginning of August.

When fair rolled around, the rest of life stopped. Erin and I were on grounds most days from early morning until late in the evening. From barn duty shifts, taking care of our animals, showing our animals, and working in the 4-H food booth, we were busy. But there was also a huge element of freedom that didn't exist anywhere else in our lives. Mom would arrange check-in times, and sometimes I was responsible for my little sister. But there were hours every day that we got to wander the carnival, hang out with friends, and revel in the warm weather. There was also a sense of responsibility and a feeling of being an important part of our community. Heck, even now, I can't stop grinning, just thinking about it.

That's something I want for my boys. No, there isn't space in our backyard to raise a 350 lb pig, and I don't even necessarily mean a love of a county fair. What I mean is a time in their summers that fills them with joy, freedom, value, and pride at doing something outside their "regular" lives. Involvement in something that makes them happy. Memories that last forever. A grin as they tell their stories to their children driving home through a warm summer evening.

That's what I want. And maybe another elephant ear...

PS. - Thanks, Mom. I'm just starting to get what a headache fair must have been for you!

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