Thursday, September 5, 2013

Everyone is a winner at the W.O.E.

Milestone roses take first place in competition
8/28/13 Chatterbox        
Betty Kaiser

“Time flies” is the lament of life. As our local W.O.E. fair ended, I realized that the days of summer were winding down to a precious few and school days about to begin. Oh, there are still vegetables to be picked and fruit to be canned, but summer is on the way out!

One day its show time for 4-H and the next minute moms and dads are scurrying around getting their kids ready for school. There are clothes and school supplies to buy, haircut and doctor appointments to be made. Carpools and after-school care must be arranged; older kids must be signed up for classes and athletic teams. Whew. Being a parent is big job but rewarding.

I was reminded of the joys of parenting as I watched parents and children participating in W.O.E. activities. It was particularly evident in the livestock division. Clearly they were learning life skills that will serve them well in every avenue of life. It made this mother’s heart happy to see them working together.

I always wanted my kids to join 4-H but they were city kids. I was interested in animal husbandry but they were not. They liked scouting and camping but raising chickens, cows, pigs and sheep were not on their so-called bucket list. And unless it was horseback riding, my grandchildren were equally uninterested.

Of course, not having to raise animals (while I was raising kids) saved me a lot of time and money. Maybe that’s why I like going to local fairs and being around the animals so much. I get to appreciate other people’s hard work and expertise without any personal investment.

Small town events are like family reunions. You get to appreciate the achievements of other people’s children as if they were your own. Saturday morning at the W.O.E. I reveled in the joy and interaction of everyone from toddlers to teens to adults.

Sitting in the bleachers at 10 a.m. I was waiting for the Lumberjack Show to begin. Axes were being thrown at targets and participants were sizing up logs with a variety of saws. I had no idea there were so many different chain saws! In the modified division the first contestant couldn’t get his saw going and when he did, he couldn’t keep it going. Of course, as soon as he walked off the field, it started! Everyone broke into applause. Family does that.

A couple of little guys (brothers) were sitting in the bleachers near me waiting for the competition to get going. The older of the two, Gavin Williams, 5, had his very own plastic chain saw. After much coaxing, he reluctantly posed for a picture with his saw. I can just imagine that he was thinking that one day he’d be competing out on that field.

Suddenly, I heard a familiar noise. It sounded like horses. It was horses! Two members of the Cottage Grove Riding Club had ridden up from the creek and were watching the competition. Lending a little western authenticity to the event, Macie was riding her horse Seven. Courtney was on her horse Pete. Dressed in riding clothes, they were also members of the Queen’s Court.

Meanwhile, the logging contest was underway and I learned a bit about sawing and throwing that I didn’t know. For instance, did you know that in the center of the axe throw target is a can of beer? It is warm and shaken. Yuck. But if you hit it and the beer spills out, you receive extra five points. Yea!

Later, I wandered into the barn to check out the livestock. It was a busy place. In the small animal and birds category I saw a variety of birds, chickens, guinea pigs and rabbits. Goats and some adorable shaggy sheep were the biggest animals that I saw.

The kids not only showcased their projects but also demonstrated animal knowledge at very young ages. Seven-year old Campbell Ellis was incredibly poised and articulate as he stood at the exhibition table and answered questions. His guinea pig and chicken each won a blue ribbon.

 Eric Stone is only three years old but this was his second year at the fair! This tow-headed little guy was clutching a chicken that was almost as big as he was (maybe a Bantam?). Also (if I understood it correctly) he had an Olive Egger rooster! And yes, he also won blue ribbons.

The goats were so beautiful and such happy creatures. Unfortunately, I was taking mostly mental notes so I don’t have names and breeds to share. But I believe that Honey, Summer and Skye all belonged to the Saucedo family. They were gorgeous beige and cream colors. I wanted to take them and their shaggy sheep friends home to be our meadow mowers.

After I congratulated the kids, I moseyed over to the textiles, culinary and food preservation divisions. I admired the quilts and a huge squash and sunflower. Caroline Pettit filled me in on the fine points of entering preserved foods for competition as I checked out some beautiful table settings.

Finally, it was time to go and I discovered that I was a winner! In my first entry—at any fair—my beautiful Milestone roses won first place. Wow. A blue ribbon. I can’t believe it. I’m going to savor this all year long while I plot my next entry.

Thanks, W.O.E., I had a great time. See ‘ya next year!

Disclaimer:  I’m a born and bred city girl. It’s pretty clear that I don’t know a rooster from a hen. My apologies to anyone whose name I have misspelled or animal I have incorrectly identified. Corrections gladly accepted. Congratulations to all!

Betty Kaiser’s Chatterbox is about people, places, family, and other matters of the heart.

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