For most people, state fairs mean funnel cakes, amusement rides and, of course, corn dogs. But for people in the agricultural industry, they mean livestock shows. I’m not talking just any livestock shows; I’m talking about THE livestock shows. These shows are the places the best come to play. The top dogs from all corners of the state come together to duke it out. Plus, most of these fairs attract a national audience. For many in the agricultural industry, state fairs are more than a good time, they’re a lifestyle.
Public Health is a Concern
We all have a role to play in keeping our communities healthy. For me, keeping my family members and others safe is the most important thing. In situations like these, it is not about ourselves, it’s about others. As agriculturalists, we naturally take care of others. We literally provide the resources to sustain life. We need to realize the true value of why we participate in these events to begin with. In reality, it is not about the events at all. This all means much more than getting to show our animals. The value of showing livestock goes far beyond the moments in the ring.
Livestock Shows are the Greatest Teaching Tool
If you ask me, livestock showing is the greatest teaching tool to ever be invented. The responsibility learned through this experience is enough to last a lifetime. These animals rely on us for everything. Waking up before the sun for feeding and washing and working hair are moments that, although not much fun, teach countless lessons. I have always felt kids who grow up showing livestock know what it means to be truly dedicated. It is not easy watching your friends go home from school or practice to hangout or play when you have to go put on barn clothes and get to work. Although it seems like we are missing out, we are truly gaining more than the rest. Dedicating the time to feed, train and love on an animal will always be the greatest experience of my life.
Livestock Shows are a Family Affair
For most people, showing livestock is a family affair. Growing up, I spent almost every night in the barn with my dad and brother. Those are the moments I would not trade for anything (yes, even the fights I cannot remember the subject of). We forged strength in our relationship in the barn, on the road and at shows. The family affair of livestock showing goes far beyond blood. One of the greatest parts about going to a show or the state fair, is seeing all of your “stock show family”. Although these people are not necessarily blood, they pitch in to help you, cheer for you, cry with you and celebrate with you. To me, the “congratulations,” “good jobs” and the “you’ll get’em next times” always meant the most coming from these people.
The Agricultural Industry Needs Livestock Shows
I believe the agricultural industry needs livestock shows. Hear me out: these shows help expose the next generation of agriculturalists to the world we all know and love. Granted, some of them would have found it anyway thanks to their families. However, there is an entire percentage of agriculturalists who were not raised on or around a farm. I personally know people who only pursued agriculture as a career due to their exposure to the livestock showing industry. It is a gateway to creating new “agvocates” and supporters. Moreover, the livestock events held at state fairs give us a platform to promote agriculture to the public. It gives us the opportunity to explain our lifestyle and engage with the public on our industry.
The Bigger Picture
Yes, losing our state fairs and shows is devastating. Yes, not getting to hit the ring one more time is disappointing. You see, we are not just losing a show, we are losing the moment it all comes together. We are losing the moment we have poured everything into, the early mornings, the late nights and the people all gathered for a 15-minute stint in the ring. However, it is not about the buckles, the banners or the titles. It is not about actually taking the animals into the ring. It is about the time, effort and people on the way to it. Just because we are not getting our big finale, doesn’t mean we haven’t already had the moments that matter.
So, as we embark into unknown territory, I challenge each and every one of us to continue what we have done for years. Keep buying those prospects, keep shopping and filling the barns. We may not know if we will have our finales but we know we can have the moments before them.
All posts are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the view of the Animal Ag Alliance.