Farm Progress is part of the Informa Markets Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Serving: IN

Life At the County Fair: When Did A Blue Ribbon Stop Meriting Praise?

Life At the County Fair: When Did A Blue Ribbon Stop Meriting Praise?
The kids worked hard and learned lessons, even if we didn't take home any purple banners at the county fair.

County fair time brings about numerous Facebook statuses about purple ribbons and banners. But for every kid out there that earns that coveted purple item there is a handful of kids who took just as much pride and put in just as many hours of work. Where are the proud parent status updates for those kids?

I speak from the perspective of a blue … but mostly red, white, yellow and green ribbon family. The first thing I told each kid before they started 4-H was we aren't in this for the purple banner, if that is the only thing you are doing this for, than you aren't in this for the right reason.

The color of the ribbon: Just because the color of the ribbon isn't purple doesn't mean kids shouldn't be proud of their work. The color of the ribbon is the judge's opinion that day. The memories, lessons learned and experiences are all yours.

Don't get me wrong, I encourage my kids to do their very best but just because it doesn't earn the purple doesn't mean it was a waste of time.

Related: County Fair Fever Shifts Into High Gear

I sat in the cattle barn after the Wednesday evening steer show watching what felt like every other family in the barn hang their purple banners. We earned none. I was tired, feeling defeated, and hungry.

Chris and Cole took me to Chili's. It was off the fairgrounds and I ate a salad and drank two huge glasses of milk. That adjusted my attitude.

I returned to the cattle barn with a different perspective.

The two steers my son showed he watched be born. For a week every morning and every day, the second he got off the bus he would run out to the barn to check and see if they were born. He put the halter on them for the first time, he broke them.

The heifer our oldest showed spent two days living in our kitchen when she was less than a week old. At two days old, she was getting weaker and weaker only to realize she was blind from a vitamin deficiency and wasn't able to find her Mama's udder to nurse. Our daughter saw the heifer be born, help nurse her back to health, put the halter on her for the first time and broke her herself.

Related: 4-H: 10 Years, 28 Calves and a Lifetime of Memories

The steer our middle child took we wanted to leave at home. We weren't sure she had worked with it enough and he wasn't all that pretty. We took him anyway! He was one of our best behaved animals and the smile on her face when they got second in his class in the market steer show was more than worth it. She had seen him born, from a cow we have had for eight years, she had put the halter on him for the first time and broke him herself.

We had worked hard before and during the fair and I was going to be proud of every single ribbon my kids earned. We left the Johnson County fair with blue, red, yellow, white and green ribbons – and my kids earned every single one.

Follow along with Jennifer this week as she chronicles her time at the county fair:
Life at the County Fair: Jeans, Sweat and Restrooms without Air Conditioning
Life at the County Fair: Manure, Cow Hair an Uncomfortable Combination
Life at the County Fair: There Will Always Be Tears
Life at the County Fair: 6 Musings About Fair Week

The opinions of Jennifer Campbell are not necessarily those of Indiana Prairie Farmer or the Penton Farm Progress Group.

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.