Picture this: you’re wandering the midway at your favorite Maine agricultural fair. Doughboy in hand, you spot a small child snuggling a giant cow in the barn across the way… Sound like a dream? For many kids in Maine it is a dream come true.
What you aren’t seeing on display at the fair are the generations before who did the same thing, carrying on a tradition so they could continue it today. Livestock and other agricultural pursuits are more than a hobby with which these kids are raised, they are a lifestyle. Moms and dads have been carrying them or pushing strollers through the farmyard, hauling them to 4-H meetings and fairs, and taking days off from work to help get their beef steers ready to show for years. It is a year-round commitment of late nights exercising cattle and horses, and early morning chores. A learning experience unlike any other, kids and adults alike are students on the farm. Responsibility, work ethic, science, math, mechanics, empathy, and perseverance are just a few of the lessons taught in a barn.
But its not all work!
Why do these hardworking families do it? There are many reasons but the favorite time of year for farm kids is fair season! It is here that they make friends, celebrate rural living and show their livestock and wares for a prize. They earn money to pay for college or gain knowledge to help them do better the next time. And at the end of the day, it’s plain old FUN!
A promising future.
Next time you spy a child with their beloved cow, fuzzy sheep or furry pony, ask them about it. They have worked hard to get to the fair and are proud of what they have to show off. These are the next generation of Maine farmers, growers and producers and we can’t wait to see what they accomplish!
Fairs are for everyone, true community gathering spots. Want to get involved? Most Maine agricultural fairs rely on volunteers to put on their annual events. Contact your local fair association and become a member or volunteer. Make donations directly to your local fair organizations or to local youth groups like 4-H who are active participants. Do you or your kids love to craft, bake or have animals of their own? There are contests of all types whether your hobby is photography or you have a trailer full of cattle. Don’t miss out on the fun!