The County Fair

The end of August is a special time for our family as we attend the Lincoln County Fair & Rodeo in Davenport, WA. For the past 11 years my daughters and wife have enjoyed entering their animals and crafts as exhibits and vying for the coveted Grand Champion Ribbon. This year we brought 2 horses, 3 goats and several crafts but years past have seen us entering steers and pigs as well. Our daughters, ages 10 and 18 love the community interaction and support. They take great pride in showing off their animals that they work hard with every year.

There can be some challenges spending time at a rural county fair where the asphalt is minimal and the gravel and dirt pathways are abundant. An extra rotating wheel on the front of my chair allows me to navigate the potholes, gravel walkways and uneven dirt floors in the animal barns.

One of the great joys of attending the county fair is getting the opportunity to reconnect with friends in the community. Watching the young exhibitors grow and mature each year as they work with their animal projects makes me appreciates living in a close knit community. It also comes in handy; getting a friendly tow around the fairgrounds behind a golf cart driven by a fair board member is a daily bonus!

I am not just an observer; I am an involved parent and member of the community with our County Fair and Rodeo. My wife and I are certified 4H Leaders and take great pride in helping other 4H members with their projects as well as our daughters. I can be found in many different barns during fair time. I could be holding the lead rope of a 1300 pound horse while my daughter puts the finishing show ring touches on its coat, brushing a horse’s tail to ensure a silky shine, or holding the collar of a 10 pound baby goat while my daughter is in the show ring with another one, I am involved.

All of our animals are familiar with my wheelchair. Horses naturally have a fear of “wheeled” objects, however ours are well accustom to the sounds and sights of a chair. This is very useful when an unaware owner of a bicycle or baby stroller comes closely by. Our horses look intently to see if the wheeled object is myself, perhaps with a sweet treat for them.

Our community fair also has a Semi-Professional Rodeo that is held during the same time. The grandstands are packed with 1000 local fans waiting to watch friends and community members compete in the rodeo arena. In fact, the grandstands were remodeled 3 years ago and two special wheelchair sections were added with the help of my input. My wife and oldest daughter have been competitors in this rodeo arena for the past 11 years. I love watching them speed around the barrels and compete for the title of Barrel Racing Champion. My main job is being the videographer, capturing those memories for the future. Both of my daughters have been Rodeo Queens, the oldest has held 4 titles so far, and I am very proud to see them in the Grand Entry waving to the crowd and helping to promote the sport that we love. After the rodeo is over, I am usually one of the last to leave the grandstands as everyone stops and wants to chat for a minute and catch up on what I have been up to.

Once our week-long fair is over, the work is still not done. Cleaning out the stalls completely, taking down decorations and dismantling pens is all part of the fair. The exhibitors, who sold their market animals during the sale on Saturday, have to load them on the trucks to their new destinations. During this time there are many tears to dry, but they all know that it is part of the cycle of a market animal. They will be back next year with a new project animal that they paid for with the money they made from selling their animal this year.

Our girls this year brought horses that always come back home and breeding goats that will hopefully produce babies next year so they can come to the fair. As I transfer into the pickup truck attached to the horse trailer and watch the girls load their animals to head home, I know all of the dust and rough terrain has been worth it. This is our oldest daughters last year at the fair as a youth exhibitor. Bittersweet, but we have no doubt she will be back to help her little sister and compete in the hometown rodeo next year.

The big smile on my 10 year olds' face when she looks at her trophies and Grand Champion ribbons, so proud of her accomplishments, reminds me of why we chose this lifestyle for our family and why I choose to be involved.

Doug

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