Lifelong lessons from the county fair

Trumbull County’s fair was last week, but Lake, Ashtabula and Geauga County fairs are all in the next six weeks, and these works relate to each one!

It’s fair week, and as we set up in the Farm Bureau area, I watched the hustle and bustle of families as they prepped for a busy week.

It’s been longer than I like to admit since I was on the opposite side of a Junior Fair. Actually, this year, I am about to experience my first fair as a show mom in Ashtabula County. The last few months have been a whirlwind of baseball, softball, work and 4-H. My 9-year-old is showing two calves this year, and our mornings and evenings are filled with feeding, walking, brushing, washing, blow drying and training — both kids and cows. I am always proud of my kids, but watching all that he has accomplished and how hard he has worked has been amazing.

Every morning (even before summer break) he wakes up and feeds the calves. Every night he washes and walks them, and while his dad and I are there to help, he takes the majority of it on himself. In between his hands-on training with the calves, he reads his beef resource handbook, keeps track of feed and miscellaneous expenses, growth, and treatment records, sets goals for each of his projects, learns parts of the animal, breeds, feet, and leg structure, feed types, and more.

He has learned about balancing rations and reaching nutritional goals, has treated ringworm and an infected navel, and is learning how to raise a heifer that will be raised to have a calf that he or his little sister can show. While our lives have been hectic, the lessons and values he has learned are priceless.

The values that at 18 years old, I didn’t realize I had. FFA, 4-H and those farm animals shape the person you will be, even years later.

To all of our Junior Fair youth exhibiting livestock this week, I hope you realize that showing animals, and life, in general, is more than banners and trophies. You spend countless hours in a barn with animals, taming, training, bathing, exercising and cleaning stalls in an attempt to raise a champion. You put blood, sweat and tears into those animals.

I hope you remember that all that hard work and responsibility will get you further in life than those banners and trophies ever will. Hard work and responsibility are not taught. They are not won. They are instilled.

Not everyone is a winner, and that is okay. I hope you know that not being a winner is OK. Being a winner isn’t a direct correlation to the hard work you put in. Not being a winner teaches you to be humble and I hope it teaches you to be gracious. I hope if you are a champion, that you celebrate that, but you have learned to do it with humility and grace and to never take it for granted, because you are going to lose in life, in a million little ways, but you are going to win too. Your actions outside of that ring impact the person you are in that ring.

I hope you realize the importance of family and community. I hope you join them one day in supporting your local youth. I hope you realize they don’t have to volunteer countless hours for a thankless position to ensure there is a fair and they don’t have to come to a Junior Fair sale and pay more than market value for your animal. But they do it because they know how important supporting the future of our community is. Many of them are those people because of 4-H and FFA.

I hope you understand financial responsibility and the importance of record keeping. Raising an animal and having a farm is expensive. Life is expensive. I hope you understand the true market value of your animal and the importance of not spending more money than you have.

I hope you realize the value of life, whether human or animal. The love and care you gave that animal and giving it the best life you could in its time here, is so important, even when you know that animal has a purpose.

I hope you have learned how to cope with loss and death. As farmers, we experience loss and death more often than most. I hope you know it’s okay to love with all your heart and to have your heart break into a million pieces. I hope you know that it’s okay to cry. I hope you learn that loss and death are really, really hard, but that life goes on, and that you can, in fact, live and love again.

I hope you realize the importance of agriculture to the world. I hope that you take that realization and you use it to be an agvocate. The two percent of us that are feeding the world need you.

I hope you know that you only get out of life, what you put into it. To succeed, you need to work hard, take responsibility for your actions, and never give up. You can’t put a price — or a banner — on that.

Happy Fair Season! Please come out and support these amazing youth at the county fair sales! These kids are worth investing in.

Submitted by Mandy Orahood, the organization director at Ohio Farm Bureau Federation for Ashtabula, Geauga, Lake and Trumbull counties.


OFBF MIssion: Working together for Ohio farmers to advance agriculture and strengthen our communities.

Labor has always been an issue, mainly because we are a seasonal operation. So that's a challenge finding somebody who only wants to work three months out of a year, sometimes up to six months.
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Mandy Way

Way Farms

Farm Labor Resources
I appreciate the benefit of having a strong voice in my corner. The extras that are included in membership are wonderful, but I'm a member because of the positive impact to my local and state agricultural communities.
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Ernie Welch

Van Wert County Farm Bureau

Strong communities
I see the value and need to be engaged in the community I live in, to be a part of the decision-making process and to volunteer with organizations that help make our community better.
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Matt Aultman

Darke County Farm Bureau

Leadership development
Farm Bureau involvement has taught me how to grow my professional and leadership experience outside of the workforce and how to do that in a community-centric way.
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Jaclyn De Candio

Clark County Farm Bureau

Young Ag Professionals program
With not growing up on a farm, I’d say I was a late bloomer to agriculture. I feel so fortunate that I found the agriculture industry. There are so many opportunities for growth.
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Jenna Gregorich

Coshocton County Farm Bureau

Growing our Generation
Knowing that horticulture is under the agriculture umbrella and having Farm Bureau supporting horticulture like it does the rest of ag is very important.
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Jared Hughes

Groovy Plants Ranch

Groovy Plants Ranch
If it wasn't for Farm Bureau, I personally, along with many others, would not have had the opportunity to meet with our representatives face to face in Washington.
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Austin Heil

Hardin County Farm Bureau

Washington, D.C. Leadership Experience
So many of the issues that OFBF and its members are advocating for are important to all Ohioans. I look at OFBF as an agricultural watchdog advocating for farmers and rural communities across Ohio.
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Mary Smallsreed

Trumbull County Farm Bureau

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