County fair time has already come and gone here in Olmsted County. My family still shows a few animals, but I haven't put on my show whites for quite some time. This year, I was back in the ring, but not to the capacity I have in the past.
Despite only being 2 years old, my daughter, Eleanor, showed her first calf in the District 1 Holstein Show at the Olmsted County Fair.
A similar scene happened in that exact same show ring 29 years prior when I showed my first calf, Yana. Wearing my white show shorts and my number hat (see photo), I was ready to go. I remember when the show announcer (most likely Dave Kjome) called the novice class to the staging area. I thought I needed to be there immediately, but my mom insisted Yana have a drink of water before making our way over to the ring entrance. I became nervous, thinking I might miss my class if Yana slurped up the water in tiny sips any slower from the 5-gallon pail.
The next snippet I remember of that night is being in the ring, waiting to talk to the judge. My parents had helped me practice saying Yana's birthday, so I knew it was coming. But I froze when the judge got to me. All I could do was stare up at Mom. She had to help me out and thankfully the judge just gave me a big smile.
I took home a ribbon that night and was so excited after my showing debut. It helped deepen my love for dairy and sparked my love for showing in 4-H, especially showmanship. It was fun picking out animals and training them for the fair each year.
Since my husband and I live in town, I know Eleanor won't have the same experience I had growing up on a farm. But I still want her to love and appreciate the dairy industry like I do.
Eleanor has loved watching Papa milk cows and helping Grandma feed calves during times we have been out at the farm this summer. One of her favorite jobs is pulling the lever to pour milk from the pasteurizer into the bottles and carrying those bottles to the calves.
When fair time came around, I did not think Eleanor was going to show. She is still a little young. But when my mom told me she signed up all her grandkids for showing at the fair, just in case, I thought we might as well give it a try.
Eleanor's calf would be Pi, named that way because her birthday is March 14. Pi is a little older and bigger than I would have liked for Eleanor, but she led well and Leah, my cousin's daughter, would be the main leadsperson in the ring. Eleanor just needed to hold on to the end.
Our practice - yes, singular since we only had one - mainly consisted of Eleanor warming up to Pi. After one circle, Eleanor became disinterested in holding the rope or what we were doing with this calf.
The day of the show, Eleanor would proudly tell people her calf's name when asked. And she seemed excited to see her mostly white with black speckles calf. Waiting for her class went well, and as we walked into the ring, Eleanor held the end of the halter walking beside Leah and I. But as the judge stopped the flow of the class to talk to each participant, Eleanor's interest waned.
Although I had to hold her for the rest of the class, I set her down towards the end to receive her ribbon from the dairy princesses. That put a smile on her face. Since that first show day, Eleanor mentions Pi every time we say anything about the farm. I don't ever want to push her into anything she doesn't want to do, but I'm excited her first time showing was a positive one and one that continues to foster a fondness for dairy.