August 21, 2019



If you’ve been reading my column over the years, you know how I appreciate county fairs. Not the big State Fairs. The little county fairs where you can see who in the neighborhood has the nicest garden, the best welder, the coolest photographs, and which 4-H club has put in the most work.
The two county fairs I still love to attend are the Harding County Fair in Camp Crook, S.D., and the Slope County Fair in Amidon, N.D.  
We attended the Harding County Fair this past weekend. And I have to brag a little. Our grandkids dominated the hog division at the livestock show. RJ was the champion showman and Evan showed the grand champion hog!
Now I will have to admit that Harding County is not known for raising hogs. It is cattle, sheep, and horse country. And this year it is known for raising hay. Thousands upon thousands bales of hay cover the open prairies of South Dakota. It is well worth the drive to see if you have an afternoon off.
Back to the hogs. I will have to admit that Evan and RJ had the only two hogs exhibited at the fair, but I am confident they would have won if there had been a thousand hogs.
The county fair at Camp Crook is a family affair. It’s one fair where you can attend a wonderful saddle bronc riding match, the exhibits, a full blown rodeo, a street dance, prairie dog golf match, a community ice cream social, and a bunch of other stuff. All the while not having to worry about if your kids are safe.
Everywhere you go, you will see piles of bicycles. There is a constant gang of bikers roaming around town. Enough of Camp Crook is paved that it is a pretty good treat for ranch kids, whose bikes seldom see anything but gravel, to cycle between the ball court and the fair grounds.
Harding County is a community that remembers the reason for county fairs. I thank you for that.
Back to the hogs. When I was in 4-H, 50 some years ago, we attended 4-H achievement days at the State Fairgrounds in Minot. I was on the livestock judging team.  
One night our 4-H club walked the mile or so to attend a movie at the Empire Theatre in downtown Minot. On the way home from the movie we cut through the livestock barns.  
There we came across an old guy, maybe 25 years old, that had been uptown way too long. He was in a talkative mood and offered to show us the hogs we were to judge the next day. Naturally this sparked our interest.
We were skeptical but listened carefully to his placings and reasons.
The next day, lo and behold, it was the same hogs! When they gave out the awards, our 4-H leader was astounded. We swept the top four placings in the hog judging. This qualified us to go to State!
That didn’t go near as well. Different hogs.