State Fair

March 17, 2008
By
Nothing caps off the summer like a chance to spend time with friends and family in the great city of Huron, SD. From the smells like show products and manure, the tastes like hot dogs and cotton candy, the sights like livestock and commercial exhibits, the sounds like laughter and the Midway, and the feelings of accomplishing a good days work and enjoyment, the South Dakota State Fair is the wonderful event that has been a favorite of mine ever since I started going many years ago.

The best part of the State Fair for when I was little was playing in the empty pens. All the little shavers like me brought our toy tractors and other toys and we would play for hours and hours while our parents showed sheep and talked for what seemed like years. I also enjoyed the time off from school and the chance to stay in a camper for an entire week. Sleeping in the camper was like sleeping in a cubbyhole, but to a little kid it was awesome. Waking up each morning to my own personal box of cereal seemed to be the treatment of a king.

As I got older the playtime got shorter and the responsibilities started to increase. Playing tractors in the pens turned into baseball in the show ring, but a good time was still had by all. John Thune could always be counted on to provide a small rubber basketball that became our baseball and one of my friends could always guess their throwing power and win us the inflatable bat. These “middle-aged” years were when showing started to become a very important hobby of mine. I started to realize why each of my sheep was either winning or losing, and I started learning all the ins and outs of the sheep industry from the show ring to the farm back home and all the work in between. Food started to come into my State Fair routine about this time, too. Shorty's Hot Dog stand was by far my favorite. Two hot dogs and a pop for $2 is an unbeatable deal.

Most people probably overlook the trolleys, but I thought they were amazing. Wondrous machines of yellow and blue that cruise gracefully around the fairgrounds all day long, the trolleys were my personal favorite means of transportation on the grounds, even if you could walk somewhere faster.

The next step along the way is the teenage years. We became too strong for show ring baseball because the ball had a tendency of landing in an unsuspecting sheep's pen. This wasn't problem until it was time to fetch the ball. The producer usually suggested that we go somewhere else and play, like by the cattle. The game turned to frisby, and Farm Bureau usually was the target to pick up a few free ones. By the end of the week we could take on any challengers in a game of frisby. I still thought the grown-ups talk forever, but it wasn't quite as bad because I didn't want to go to bed at 8:00 anymore. During these times I started actually fitting my sheep, too. It wasn't just helping dad for five minutes and getting bored, but actually staying up till midnight the day before the show and actually fitting sheep. Showing became more competitive as I grew older, also. One great discovery marked this period of my State Fair timeline; all you can drink chocolate milk for a dollar. My personal record is five glasses in one sitting.

Times have changed since my first trip to Huron, but today the State Fair is still one of my favorite times of year. The camper turned into a hotel a few years ago. The food is still great, except I need to buy two Hot Dog specials because two hot dogs doesn't cut it. Pork loin sandwiches and beef tenderloin are all a little more appealing to me today. The chocolate milk is still all you can drink, but costs $1.50 now caused most likely by kids like me who can't get enough chocolate milk. The concept, however, has endured the many years. My family and I still go to catch up with friends, show sheep, socialize some more, and just take a break from home for a week.





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