City slickers take on Rock County 4-H Fair
JANESVILLE--As a Chicago native, I didn't know what to expect as I prepared for my first Rock County 4-H Fair, but I started to get the idea after being told to “wear shoes that I don't mind getting poop on."
The concept of a fair was foreign to me.
I brought along my friend Katja Grober, a New York City native, who was equally dumbfounded.
The smell of early morning manure greeted us at the main gate Tuesday, and we had no idea where to begin.
Cows, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys and lots of pigs were the first stops. We quickly learned the origins of that “fun fair smell” I was told so much about.
Neither of us had realized county fairs had animals. The “fairs” at home were carnival rides, games and carnival food.
“The fairs at home have boats, not animals,” Kat said.
Kat and I were quickly immersed in the fair experience. It seemed like a celebration, a time for everyone to come out and enjoy.
We spoke with children who raised the animals and were surprised they had been raising animals since they were little--a childhood completely different from mine.
I was told to stand clear of a sneezing cow, and we decided it was time to move onto food.
The aroma of fresh fried dough filled the air, and before I knew it, I was stuffing about six mini doughnuts into my mouth at one time. Pizza, cream puffs, cheese curds, candy apples, it's like the fair could read our minds.
The sun was high, our bellies were stuffed, and we had just finished playing with someone's puppy. A morning trip to the fair had treated us well.
Here are six things we city slickers learned after attending our first real fair:
1. Animals--The fair had so many animals. Everywhere we looked, everywhere we smelled, there were animals nearby. It was fun speaking with kids who raised them, hearing personal stories about their time with them and all the work it took to raise them.
2. The smell--They weren't kidding about the smell, but once you get used to it, you realize it's all apart of the fair's culture, and you learn to love it.
3. Education--From teaching a sewing course to raising a cow, there is so much that the children learn when they participate in 4-H and show off their skills at the fair.
“It's really educational,” Kat said. “Everything the kids do, here, is secretly teaching them how to be adults.”
4. Family--The fair provides a strong sense of family and togetherness. It's clear Rock County residents go to the fair to see people they may not have seen in a while, catch up and have a good time. The atmosphere was so positive and inviting, I couldn't help but appreciate being part of such an experience.
5. Food--The food strip had anything anyone could want. Pizza, gyros, hot dogs, funnel cakes, mini doughnuts, this fair had it all. It was my personal heaven. Any place that greets you with a nice big bag of fresh warm doughnuts is a place I want to be.
6. Vendors--From tractors to clothes, the vendors at the fair had everything. With such friendly people at the fair, being a vendor seemed like a great time to introduce a new product for sale.