Anita's Column

Attending the Missouri State Fair has always been an end of the summer activity for my family since as long as I can remember, however, this year was one I will never forget.
Three of my grandchildren are 4-H members and they decided to participate in several shows during the fair so Son-in-law #1 took his camper to Sedalia so we could spend the week on the fair grounds and prepare for adventures.
Our first show was the Goat Wether Show held on August 9 and 10 before the fair even opened.  We hauled Phil and George to the fair grounds to prepare for the show.  Daughter #1 had packed snacks in the camper so I took some to the show.  Grandson #3 helped himself to a package of cheese, crackers and raisins.  He had his fill and asked if I wanted the raisins.  I said yes and placed the container on my chair while we took Phil out of his pen to prepare him for the show.  My grandson brushed his goat and took off for the show ring.  I sat back down and picked up the container of raisins for what I thought would be a tasty snack.  I popped one of the raisins in my mouth when I realized it wasn’t a raisin.  Raisins and goat poop look very much alike and I wasn’t paying much attention.  Note to self, do not eat round, smooth raisins!
Grandson #4 and Granddaughter #4 came to the Fair the next day and spent the night with us in the camper.  The kids thought it was great fun to be camping out without parents to make rules about when to go to bed or what to eat.  According to Nana rules, if everyone is too tired to fix dinner, then we could just drive around Sedalia picking up everyone’s favorite fast food and take it back to the camper.  The healthy food could wait for another day. 
When we finally settled down, it was late and everyone was tired.  I had just drifted off when I heard what sounded like someone breaking into the camper.  It was Grandson #4 as he hit the floor.  He had rolled off the top bunk, landed on a cooler and rolled over still sound asleep.  I woke him up and moved him to the couch and went back to bed.  Just an hour later, Granddaughter #4 started screaming and pulling on her ears.  I tried everything to calm her but she was in pain and I didn’t have any baby aspirin or anything else to give her so I called her mother.  She drove to Sedalia to pick up her baby and then I went back to bed.  By 1 AM, everyone was asleep.
During this two-week event, I also had to transport my grandchildren back and forth to Warsaw for cheerleading practice in the morning and football practice in the evening.  One day when I simply couldn’t be in two places at the same time, I called my dear friend Micki Lane and asked her to bring Granddaughter #1 to the fair after cheerleading practice.  She graciously helped me out, dropped Granddaughter #1 at a gate near our show and Granddaughter #1 made it to the Goat Show on time.
The next day, we took the goats home and picked up the chickens for the Poultry Show.  First we had to wash the chickens.  For the most part, chickens don’t like to take a bath so after preparing a nice warm, soapy bath I helped the children dip the chickens into their bath and we rubbed their feet to clean them.  Soon we were on our way back to the fair with three wet hens, a rooster and a duck.  By the way, the duck didn’t mind the bath at all.
The chickens all received blue ribbons and the duck was a reserve champion.  I didn’t know that a Kahiki Campbell duck was even a breed. We took him because he was one of the lucky ones that wasn’t eaten by a raccoon.  In fact, his name is Lucky!
Grandson #3 gave a demonstration in the 4-H Building on Saturday and impressed the crowd with his knowledge.  Later, the children and friends enjoyed time down at the carnival.  We really didn’t have time for that during the week because of all the animal shows.
The next event was the goat breeding stock.  We took five goats up for this event.  Again, the day before the show we washed and brushed all the goats.  That night Sedalia was hit by a storm.  Daughter #4 brought Grandson #5 to spend the night in the camper with us and the next morning when she left for work in the city, the creek behind the camper was running wild.  I was a bit worried as I watched the water rise, but we took off for the goat show anyway.  Arriving at the Swine Barn, we were greeted by wet goats as well as most of our equipment sitting in water. 
Son-in-law #2 came up and helped us for the show, which I appreciated since the goats were not pleased that they had to walk through the river that was running down the middle of the Swine building.  By the way, there is no Goat building at the Fair so the goat people have to share with the swine people.  It is not a good set up, those pigs can be rather aggressive and they smell even worse than the goats.
One goat fell in the mud so we had to rewash and brush and all in all, it was a difficult day.  At one point I turned to see Granddaughter #4 splashing through the mud puddles and singing the theme song to “Peppa Pig”.  I was glad her mother wasn’t there to see just how muddy she was.
While we didn’t win any Grand Champion ribbons, the children were pleased with third place, fifth place and several blue ribbons.
At noon, the children complained that they were hungry because we had left in a hurry and I didn’t pack lunch so I walked to the nearest stand and bought five cheeseburgers and a large fry as well as five bottles of water for $50.  This is why I usually packed sandwiches at the camper.
“I don’t like cheese,” complained Grandson #3. 
“I don’t have ketchup,” complained Grandson #4.
As I sat down in a puddle of water, I replied, “Eat it or don’t, I really don’t care!”
They all ate the cheeseburgers even the one that said he didn’t like cheese.
Granddaughter #4 fed most of hers to Luna, the goat.  A grandfather with a little girl stopped by our pen and commented on the goat and his granddaughter enjoyed petting Luna.  “Would you sell the goat for say $200?” he asked.
“Oh, no,” replied Grandson #4 rather quickly.  “We all love Luna.  We had to bottle feed her because her mother wouldn’t feed her.  She is like part of the family.”
When Son-in-law #2 heard of the offer he said, “Why didn’t you take the money.  That goat doesn’t even weight 20 pounds.”
The children all looked at him like he was crazy.  How could we ever sell Luna?
Anyway, when it was time to show one of the goats, Grandson #3 panicked because he couldn’t find his green card that he was supposed to hand to the gatekeeper as he exited the show ring.  I found pieces of it in the pen, Max had eaten his ID card.  I hurried to the announcer’s booth to get another card to fill out.  I filled it out and handed it to Grandson #3 just as he entered the ring.  Now, that is the goat we should sell.  He also ate a hole in my shirt. 
The rain continued most of the day and when Son-in-law #2 went to the lot to pick up the trailer he wasn’t sure he would make it out.  The lot was a muddy mess and everyone seemed to be trying to load up at the same time.
We managed to get the goats back to the farm and we loaded up rabbits for the next competition.
Rabbits are easier than goats because once they are in their cages they don’t go anywhere.  The children put bedding in the cages along with food and water and we were able to go back to the camper for the night.
The rabbit competition was quite exciting as Grandson #3 won Best of Breed with a Holland Lop named Roger.  Best of Breed goes on to the finals so we had to wait until all 625 rabbits in the building were judged.  Then in the finals, Roger was named Best of Show Class 4 and overall Reserve Best of Show. 
Roger was placed in a special cage at the front of the building so fairgoers could see him.
On Saturday, the family came to the fair to attend the Missouri 4-H Hall of Fame induction ceremony where I was honored to be part of the group.
Of course, even that was not without drama.  I misinterpreted the directions and thought the ceremony was on the fair grounds instead of where it was at State Fair Community College. Daughter #4 and her family were watching a horse show in the Mathewson Building when we were supposed to be at an auditorium on the State Fair Community College campus.  We all had to make a mad dash over to the building just in time as the ceremony was about to begin.  Daughter #2 and #3 and their families literally ran from the fairgrounds to the college.  We all made it and I was a part of the ceremony.
Afterwards, we all had dinner together and I relaxed as it looked like I had made it through the fair.  Daughter #4 and her hubby helped me supervise the children at the carnival then we headed home.
The last day of the fair, Grandson #4 gave his 4-H demonstration in the 4-H Building on making a grilled cheese sandwich and received a Purple Ribbon.  We were all very proud.
As the day came to a close, Grandson #3 turned to me and said, “Nana, do you think we could get a llama?”
Anyone know where I could buy a llama?