July 24, 2013



Tis the fair season. Now, I don’t mean weather-wise. As far as the weather goes, it is the season when farmers and ranchers have an eye cast on those thunderheads building up in the west. And living with the fear that the 90-degree day will suddenly produce a chilling breeze and a hailstorm that can destroy a beautiful crop. I mean it is the season for county fairs to kick off.
I don’t think there is anything much better than a county fair. I mean, I’m not talking a big deal like the state fair, but a little deal, like the Grant County Fair, or McKenzie County Fair.
Where the Homemakers, Lutheran Women, and the Lucky Leaf 4-H Club man the food booths. Where the steers, heifers, chickens, and rabbits are housed within clucking distance of each other. Where there are turtle races, petting zoos, rodeos, and a parade down Main Street.
In Grant County, you can place a friendly wager on the turtle races. In McKenzie County, you might buy the winning bronc rider. In Slope County, you can watch the rodeo or 4-H sale while sipping on a bloody mary. In Harding County, you can rodeo, enter the watermelon-eating contest, street dance, and pick up all the free zucchini you want at the produce display.
Nearly all counties have homemade apple pie, juicy burgers, crop displays, and homemade ice cream.
I grew up showing steers at 4-H and FFA. Usually the halter broke a few days before the show and dad would sit just back of the crowd on Cim (short for Cimarron) with his rope down, waiting to rope the steer after he had drug me through the crowd and escaped. Seems a little funnier now than it did then. I usually had the only steer in the show that had that purple stuff all over his wire cuts. I never did do real well in showmanship.
When our kids were showing steers one year, we had a couple bad ones. I mean real bad. They were Chi-Angus steers, with about one-eighth pure devil. I mean they would kick, chase, and honestly, they would bite. I never saw anything like it. Do you know how many young kids cry when they realize their steer is meant for the barbecue? Will and Carmen named their steers T-Bone and Rib-eye! If it wasn’t for a certain vet and some wonder drugs, I don’t think we could have shown them. But that is another story.
Our highlight of the fair circuit one year was the Harding County Fair down in South Dakota. That fair has the toughest competition in the world. Especially when it comes to rabbits. If you’ve ever driven across Harding County, you know there is a huge supply of rabbits, deer, and antelope.
And I am proud to announce that our granddaughter, Gracy, won the Grand Champion girl rabbit at the Harding County Fair! We always knew that girl was meant to be a champion, and now she has a trophy to prove it! And since then, both Gracy and Gage have won the watermelon-eating contest! Genetics of good eaters is passed on.
Speaking of Harding County and fairs, it seems there is an old story about a couple of steer wrestlers from that area, whom one time stole the Grand Champion turkey at the big Fort Worth Stock Show. They proceeded to feast on roast turkey, not realizing till afterwards, when they saw it in the paper. $50,000 TURKEY STOLEN FROM STOCK SHOW! One of the cowboys told his sister it tasted just like rabbit!
One of these same guys pulled a switch on a clown at the Houston Astrodome. The clown had an act where he would turn these two domestic ducks out of a gunnysack. His dog would haze them around and herd them back into the sack.
One year, after weeks of planning and trapping, our cowboy took two wild ducks, captured in the Dakotas, to Houston. Under the veil of darkness, with a little help from a case of beer, the switch was made. The clown came out, dumped his ducks out, and away they went, flying around the Houston Astrodome!  With twenty-five thousand people going nuts, and a Border Collie dog going insane!
Wish I could have been there!