The fair is upon us, and I hear rumor that parents are freaking out. How can that possibly be? Lol. I have been every year since birth and even though I only have nieces and nephews showing, I still have to plan accordingly.
My husband always asks why families show when all he hears is the bickering between us. I have learned over the years that Every. Single. Family. Argues. During. Fair. Every. One. And yes, it may seem not worth it in that moment, but it is. One of my favorite sayings is that you don’t see 4-Hers failing at life. You just don’t. So there’s that little nugget to hold onto when you go to the bathroom just to escape the family and avoid screaming in their faces that you need a drink and why can’t they scoop the crap just once!
Anyway, that being said, I hear that it’s sometimes a struggle to be prepared for fair week. Lol. Nah…you don’t say!
So here are a few helpful Bolton Carley tips to Fair Week – take ‘em or leave ‘em, no worries here, I’ll be in the barn having a Mountain Dew:
*Have totes ready pre-fair. Even if by pre-fair, you mean midnight the day before. I would recommend totes for each day of the fair or by activity if that works better for you. Pack everything in you will need for that day or event. If you need to use some of those things prior to then, make a checklist for the top of the tote that reminds you to grab those items before you walk out the door. Also, keep post-it notes next to your door at home and put them on the glass to remind you not to leave for the day without those small forgotten items. And Ziploc bags are your friend – to put on the static projects, to put wet clothes in, and food that you want to keep!
*Have a tote for clothes to be worn at fair. This is where you mooch all the 4-H t-shirts you can from cousins, siblings, etc. that are too old for 4-H or have outgrown them. And if you don’t have family to steal from, ask on Facebook or Swap. Load up! And then, you may laugh at me in the moment, but seriously – put a laundry basket in your car for all dirty laundry so you know what is dirty and what’s clean and can be re-washed if necessary for another day. Plus, your dirty stuff doesn’t get on the clean! Those wet, dirty socks seem to attract clean t-shirts!
*Speaking of clothes, don’t forget the belt and safety pins to pin your number on. Everyone forgets those. Plus, extra shoes. Ones to get wet when washing and then let dry while you wear the others. Socks, too. You can never have enough clean socks with you! And check your boots now. If they are too small, you still have time to ask on Swap or if you have a smaller kid – hit Pink & Green in CB, they have lots of used boots and he’s a Carson boy! Support local. If you’re not from Pott Co., find a local resale shop or hit Orschleins for good deals.
*Also in your clean clothes tote, pack a few towels. In an emergency, you might have to shower there or clean up after washing next to a Freddy that soaks you…accidentally…of course. And don’t forget to pack extra clothes for you. Yes, you worry so much about your kids, you forget about you!
*Pack food and drinks. Now, I am a huge advocate for taking a check and setting up an account at the 4-H Food Stand so that you don’t have to go find cash every time you want something, you can just swing by and grab what you need or want when you are on the run between events. That being said, I also like to have snacks in the barn for family bonding time. We like to have a cooler of everyone’s fave drinks and not just one type – you should only drink so many Pepsis. Gotta have those Gatorades, too. Or if your family likes tea or kool-aid that you can’t buy in the store (like I love lime kool-aid, yes, feel free to laugh at me), fill those empty water bottles with everyone’s faves and be sure to have lots of water! You can never have enough water bottles at fair. Plus, you don’t want to have to make a million convenience store runs – they add up! As for food, we usually try to have salty and sweet, but chocolate melts in the ungodly heat that always coincides with fair! So I stick to cookies instead of candy bars. I also like to take chips like Pringles and Lays because they come in a canister you can put the lid back on and you don’t have to have a chip clip and they don’t get smashed. But we do keep chip clips in our showbox. They are always worth having close by! Don’t forget the fly spray, marker, stapler, and hose for the showbox! They always get left at home!
*Cards. You should have cards to play when the day gets long. Yes, I know everyone just sits on their phones and plays their electronic devices, but more friendships have been built out of boredom on a game of cards than you can possibly imagine! Go old-school for your kids’ sake. You won’t regret it. And don’t be afraid to ask all the other kids to come join you. We always have multiple packs for war or BS. If you think that’s too boring, have a selfie competition in your barn and a time limit, see who can come up with the best photo or bring your tailgating cornhole game from home.
*Gas up the car. I know it sounds dumb, but it’s the little things that take time that can kick you off schedule. Have that done ahead.
*Make sure you have chairs. Sitting is necessary. Lol.
*Sleep. The number one recommendation I can make to you going into, and during, fair is to get as much sleep as possible. Your kid won’t, so that means you need to so one of you handles things properly and without disaster.
*Don’t forget this is your chance for family bonding. Fair never goes as planned. Tears happen, but 20 years from now, I hope they remember the water fight you had or the kid they met or just sitting in the barn with you. Big picture goals – 4-Hers don’t fail at life.
I have plenty more, but I’ve already been too wordy – where was that when I had to write a record book? Lol.
Happy Fair Week!
Other tips you’d like to share? Comments you’d like to make? Or questions you have for me to still answer? Happy to hear them.
So it’s probably no surprise to anyone that knows me that my “good” of the week is the East Pottawattamie County Fair. If you want to see good kids, good parents, good work ethics, good success stories, good moments, good laughs, good animals, and good times, you will want to make your way to Avoca between Wednesday and Monday. (Well, and besides, it’s your chance to see me, too. Lol.)
And if that’s not enough, today you are going to listen to me wax a little nostalgic. I was talking to a guy I met this week that had grandparents who lived in Oakland when he was a kid. He spent his summer time here, and we were laughing about the stuff you remember form your childhood. What I remember most involved the people at that county fair.
I remember being a kid and Lori’s friends putting up with me – Dave, Kirk, Jeff, Carol, and Jay even played cards with me! I remember paying to get into the fair or having to go really early so we didn’t have to pay! Lol. I remember Misch teaching me to make donuts for her presentation with these circle blocks we had. I remember seeing Robin, Kris, and Scott (yes, they know who they are, no need to add last names) laughing and I wouldn’t know why but they were always up to something! I remember seeing people get thrown in the tank back when we used tanks at the fair. You got thrown in if you were cute or if you were annoying. Looking back, those were some funny reasons! I remember the demo derbies, too, and that chicken on the Pauley’s car!
Personally, I remember being excited for the dog and cat show because they let me hand out ribbons! Crazy, huh? Once I was in 4-H, I remember my first market heifer, Jen, she was a mousy thing and I had to take her out in front of the grandstand on the track and my dad telling me that there were no fences and she’d be in the next county if I let go so not to let go! I remember sitting on the showbox with Kerri and Stacey. I remember hanging out at the campers with Brad, Perry, Jennifer, Stacey, Guthrey, and a lot of others. I remember Ryan Danker’s calf always running across the fairgrounds and him holding on still! I remember having my steer, Travis Tritt, and being bummed I didn’t win, but any cattle person will tell you that you can win everywhere else and still get beat at your county fair! I also remember Rhoten telling me he was hamburger. I remember playing cards in the barns. I remember bawling when I was a senior.
And then it came full-circle, and I remember how proud I was when Tiffany and Kyra (2 of my nieces) were crowned queens or when Bethany suffered through mono to still show sheep when it was 100 degrees.
I remember tons more, but nothing earth-shattering, just small little snippets of a childhood well-spent at the county fair. I hope you have those memories, too, if not of the East Pott Co. Fair, I hope they are of somewhere…
And I hope when you see those people that make appearances in your flashbacks of childhood, I hope you’re as happy to see them as I am to see the people who show up at the East Pott. Co. Fair every year…
Got a story I need to hear? A memory I didn’t share? A story about a different county or a 4-H story or a project you made or an animal you showed? Let’s heat it.