2017 was our first year as 4-H parents at the fair and we learned a lot! Here are some tips from our family to yours to help keep the fair as fun as possible!
- Don’t go. That was a joke, but seriously the fair is stressful, prepare for it by setting reasonable expectations. Last year was our son’s first year showing animals in 4-H and we set ONE goal before moving into the fair…we wanted to make it through the week and still like each other at the end.
- Make new friends. We found several super nice people that know what they’re doing in the dairy feeder barn. They would speak with our son make suggestions directly to him about what needed to be done. This meant we as parents didn’t have to explain all of the challenging jobs. That’s a WIN-WIN! And we learned a lot listening to people who know way more than us!
- Plan to keep cool. Pack the Frogg Toggs, mister fans, spray bottles for the animals, water and Gatorade. We always pack a cooler for the fair. I LOVE how easy this cooler rolls with very little effort if you have to walk a loooonnnng ways from the parking lot. By the end of the fair when you don’t have enough energy to walk where you need to go, the cooler also doubles as a seat, so you can take breaks.
- Set a budget and discuss with the family ahead of time. There is a farm toy tent at our fair and it’s really hard to make it through
an hourfive minutes without thinking about it. Before we left home we set milestones. The first visit wouldn’t happen until after weigh-in and the skillathons were done. Nothing would be purchased before showmanship was complete. Bad behavior would reduce the budget to zero and we would NOT go over budget buying toys at the fair.
- Plan meals ahead of time. We did the math a month before the fair – if we all ate everything we wanted for every meal we would spend $1,000 on fair food. That’s not a realistic option for us. So, we ate breakfast at home, lunch at the fair and pulled pork from a pork shoulder we made in the crock pot at home for dinner. And we packed lots of snacks that we made and individual snacks that we purchased ahead of time.
- Don’t use all the cell phone data! There’s sooo much waiting to be weighed, waiting for your class, waiting in line for ice cream. Bring a book, mad libs or deck of playing cards. Do fun things that don’t use all the data.
- Take a nap. Whether you get a reclining chair or a cot, every once in a while we all need a nap, especially overstimulated kids. The mornings can be early and the nights can be late, so have a predetermined area ready for a quick snooze to help reset smiles and positive attitudes!
- Do as much as you can ahead of time. Layout all the show clothes, pack the show boxes early, make the buyer thank you signs, fill out the project books a little at a time. Do what you can to spread out the workload and if you can’t, then give yourself grace and smile!
- Avoid arguments. Nobody wins when there’s arguments with fair officials, volunteers, judges, other parents, our kids, or our spouse. Try to think about how much volunteers are sacrificing to make these opportunities possible for our kids. We don’t have to agree with every decision and we also don’t have to be disrespectful when we disagree.
- Remember the work is worth it. Kids are worth investing time, energy and everything else! Having the ability to participate in fair week is such a blessing! Try to take a family picture, or grab a picture in the same spot each year and try to find joy and goodness in every moment!
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