Like a kid at Christmas, I can hardly sleep because once again, Awesome Week is here! By Awesome week, I a, of course, talking about Auglaize County Fair week. A time when my family carries forth a tradition passed from generation to generation that all enjoy and look forward. It’s a vacation, a family reunion, and celebration all wrapped into one. We love it.

Not everyone, however, shares my family’s enthusiasm for the county fair. In fact, a lot of people tell me to my face that we’re crazy for spending our entire year working for this week of heat, humidity, and expense. They don’t get it and they ask me why we wrap so much ourselves into showing livestock and being at the fair. “Isn’t it expensive?” they ask me. I always answer the same way; it’s an investment.

Now before I go any further, let me say this, we lose money. We lose money when we buy a steer for our kids to show. We lose money when we buy feed for the steer, on the electric for our barn and on all of the equipment we buy for the cattle. We lose money every year, but it’s still a great investment because we aren’t investing in cattle, we’re investing in our kids.

Showing cattle has taught my son and now my daughters lessons that I know they couldn’t learn anywhere else and that’s why its the best investment I will ever make. Because our time in the barn my kids have learned:

Life Isn’t Fair

There are few kids in our county that work harder in the barn than my son does. He’s up at 5:00 every morning and he’s in the barn until about 10:00 every night. He’s always brushing, washing and working because he loves it. Despite all of his hard work, however, it’s more than likely that he’s still not going to win. I love that he’s learning this lesson when he’s ten rather than being shocked when he gets his first job and watches someone that doesn’t work as hard as he does get promoted. Life isn’t fair, but he’s learning to work hard for himself and not just to please someone else.

No Matter What Happens, Don’t Let Go

Jack weighs about 70lbs and Caroline is about 50lbs soaking wet with boots on. Both of these kids are in control of animals that weight well over 1000lbs and sometimes it gets messy. When a steer needs to eat, drink or just wants to run there’s little that they can do to stop them. There’s one rule that they all follow though, and that’s no matter what happens, don’t let go of the rope. Later in life there are going to be setbacks and challenges and life is going to pull the in several directions at once. It’s in those moments when I hope they remember the rule that no matter what happens, to never let go.

Win Or Lose, We’re In This Together

From September until August our barn is full and our kids spend a lot of time there but from May until the Fair is over there are a lot of early mornings and late nights as the final push starts. Every single day all three kids work together to get all of the cattle washed, dried and brushed. To get manure picked up and feed in the bunk. They work together to move heavy bales of hay and to pull stubborn steers and when we get to our county fair, everything that happens both good and bad is celebrated as a family. Some day when they have families of their own it’s my hope that these days stand out as vividly in their minds as they do in mine and that their kids learn to count on one another the way that mine do today because win or lose, we’re in this together.

There’s an online magazine called Showtimes that covers the show industry. In it, there are results for shows and promotions of others. Our whole family loves it and one of their promotions is the hashtag #ThisIsWhyWeShow. During Awesome Week this year, I’m watching my investment pay off as lessons that have been taught all year are celebrated. It might not make sense to anyone else, but when I see their hard work pay off and the smiles they give walking out of the show ring I can tell anyone that This Is Why Wee Show.

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