Posted 8/22/12 (Wed)
It’s fair season in the Dakotas. I’m not talking about the State Fair. I mean the State Fair is all right, but it’s too commercial. I like a county fair where the focus in on the kids. Not on how many people come through the gate or on the big name entertainment that plays the grandstand. I like the little fair with local entertainment. I like the Harding County Fair and the Slope County Fair. Harding County has a tug of war between Montana and South Dakota (South Dakota women won, Montana men). I like a watermelon-eating contest (Evan and RJ both won second in their age division). Carmen made me draw out of adult division, said professionals weren’t allowed. There was talk of a Calcutta for the adult division. I had already made a deal with Gary for him to buy me, and we would go 50-50.
Reminded me of my younger days. Back as a teenager in Ward County, judging livestock at the 4-H county show, with the winners going on to Valley City for the State Meet. Our team was pretty bad. We didn’t know a lot. Still don’t. We went to a movie one night, and on the return to the fairgrounds, walked through the livestock barns.
Here sat an old guy, probably 25, by the hogs. He was sipping on a Budweiser. Perhaps several of them. He introduced himself to us and commenced to tell us he owned the hogs we would be judging the next day. That got us kind of interested and he proceeded to give us the placing and reasons on each pen of hogs. Like good students, we took notes.
Lo and behold! The next day, here are those same hogs. We put our faith in this Budweiser angel and did as he had told us. We didn’t have a lot to lose.
If you had been a 4-H leader, you would have been bursting with pride!
The judge called out the placing for the county. “Fourth place, Bill Burke of Berthold; Third place, Dean Meyer of Berthold; Second place,Warren Fegley of Berthold; First place, boy, these Berthold guys really know their hogs, Gordon Lee of Berthold.” We made a clean sweep in the hog judging.
Our parents were proud. Our leader was proud. The entire hog industry of the world had their eyes upon us, as this well-coached team of hog geniuses went on to the State Meet.
One small problem, different hogs. I think we got last place. We all just picked the hogs with the curliest tail. Oh, well, what the heck. The only reason they make pigs is to help you realize how good beef is!
It also brought back memories of showing steers at Minot. My steer, I guess you could say, Dad’s and my steer. We weren’t too much into halter breaking cattle. You chased cattle, you led horses. So the steer got fed with all the others. Then a couple of days before he had to be shown, you hooked a tractor on him and dragged him around the yard! Then after the tractor could pull him in road gear, you put an 80-pound kid (I used to be little, maybe a 100) on the end of the lead rope and said hang on.
Well, he ran off and ran through a fence. So here I am the next day at the 4-H Roundup at the state fairgrounds. I’m the kid with the wire- cut steer with the purple wound dope all over him. That’s my dad sitting on a saddle horse in the middle of the crowd with his rope down, arm cocked and looking like he was in the roping box.
And I suppose it is genetics, but I remember Carm and Will showing the Chiania steers. You know how kids get attached to their animals? Well, they named their steers Ribeye and Sirloin! That’s love. They were the steers that looked like they had been smoking pot. Eyes half closed, pupils dilated, and as gentle as a vet could make them.
Gotta go. Time to slop the hogs.