indiana Prairie Farmer Logo

Spare the show spectacle

Letters From the Farmhouse: Don’t let pride overshadow the kids at the county fair.

Allison Lund, Indiana Prairie Farmer Senior Editor

May 6, 2024

3 Min Read
 Kids showing goats at a fair
LET KIDS SHINE: The fair is a chance for exhibitors to showcase their hard work. Do not let pride or extreme gestures overshadow their time to shine. Allison Lund

Editor’s note: Welcome to my new column, where I will share my life and experiences as my fiancé and I begin our life together on our Indiana farm.

“Sold!” cries the auctioneer, mere seconds after reaching the highest bid of any animal sold at the small county fair.

I scan the room as members of the crowd gasp at the amount rattled off, surprised that a livestock auction at a small-town fair could draw in that much money from one sale. What many of them do not know is that the buyer of that animal is the grandparent of the exhibitor.

Now, don’t get me wrong — there is nothing wrong with family members bidding on or purchasing livestock at the county fair. In many cases, that is warranted. I’ve seen fairs where only a handful of businesses showed up to bid, leaving it to the parents to raise the cost of the animal to a decent price so their child can pay back debts that came with raising that show pig or lamb.

It’s even more heartwarming to see a family member help bid the price up a little beyond market price so the child can make a profit to put toward next year’s show animal or their college education. What is not so touching — and is even a little rude, in my opinion — is creating a bidding war between family members to generate a bid so high that it leaves jaws lying on the floor.

The fair is not the place

I’ve been to a small fair where, year after year, the same family shows up with checkbooks in hand, ready to reach an unheard-of amount for a certain family member who is exhibiting. And every year, they make a grand show of outbidding each other until they reach that magic number that will leave people in awe.

What doesn’t sit right with me in this situation is that the sale has nothing to do with the exhibitor, and it has everything to do with the family showing off their bank account. This spectacle is even more damaging for other exhibitors who had nobody show up to bid on their animal. They sit there wondering why their friend’s animal brought so much and their animal only got one bid.

There is certainly a place for these kinds of livestock sales: charity events, sales where the exhibitor is injured or has passed away, an exhibitor’s last show, or even an exhibitor’s first show, where they may need some encouragement to continue next year. But showing up every year with this plan to hit a certain dollar amount that is sure to draw attention takes away from every other kid who’s worked hard to exhibit and sell a high-quality animal.

By all means, gift any amount of money to your children or grandchildren. I plan to be a supportive parent when my future children show livestock. But don’t make the gift in front of a crowd at the county fair.

Make a deposit into their college account and tell them about it privately. Or hand them a check for their hard work with the fair animal — and even go on to purchase the animal at the sale at a reasonable price. But don’t make the livestock auction a place to display your pride.

About the Author(s)

Allison Lund

Indiana Prairie Farmer Senior Editor, Farm Progress

Allison Lund worked as a staff writer for Indiana Prairie Farmer before becoming editor in 2024. She graduated from Purdue University with a major in agricultural communications and a minor in crop science. She served as president of Purdue’s Agricultural Communicators of Tomorrow chapter. In 2022, she received the American FFA Degree. 

Lund grew up on a cash grain farm in south-central Wisconsin, where the primary crops were corn, soybeans, wheat and alfalfa. Her family also raised chewing tobacco and Hereford cattle. She spent most of her time helping with the tobacco crop in the summer and raising Boer goats for FFA projects. She lives near Winamac, Ind.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like