Link to Owner Dr. Robert B. Pamplin Jr.

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Here comes the county fair. No matter what happens, in the ring, try to remember to smile

Holly McLaneIt's almost county fair time! So, get ready to ditch your hot kitchen Aug. 7 through 10 because…hello elephant ears and soda for breakfast, lunch and dinner!

Once in a while (but not that often, actually) I miss the years when our family worked extra hard to get our prize-winning pigs ready for show, and if you've ever coached a 4-H or FFA member, you know exactly what I'm talking about. So, in the spirit of good sportsmanship, here's a little Showmanship Training Tutorial, from a mom who's "been there and done that." I know that every good showman likes to use what works best for them, but feel free to use the following for your 4-H or FFA instructional purposes as well.

The goal, when entering the show ring with your hog at the county fair, is to basically be superhuman. First and foremost, SMILE! Then, keep your eyes on the judge at all times, even though the sweat and dust are making you feel like you've just been sprayed at point-blank-range with pepper spray. Also, keep your pig under control. Don't let your pig fight with the other pigs and, please, SMILE. Then, direct your pig with a tiny stick (even though you'd rather use a lead pipe). At all times keep SMILING, answer the judge's questions like you've owned a feed store all your life, then SMILE some more. Follow your pig calmly (even when it's doing pirouettes across the show ring) and move your pig fast if the pig next to you starts to poo. Last, but not least, try to avoid eye contact with mom because she'll try and communicate in some ridiculous sign language that only mothers understand and, above all, SMILE dang-it! Grandma's in the bleachers!

Once you've made it through the harrowing experience of showing the animals, it's time to move on to the highlight of the county fair! For my kids, that was the Livestock Auction. It takes place Aug. 10th at 2 p.m., and this is when our hard-working youngsters get to stuff their college savings accounts full of money in exchange for, gulp, wrapping prize-winning hog in white butcher paper.

The bidding starts out modestly enough, but quickly escalates to generous donations being made by all the local businesses that our kids invite to flirt with bankruptcy on auction day. Of course, these are usually the same local heroes the kids have already shelled out large sums of money to for items such as feed and brushes, fencing and shampoo, water troughs and, let's not forget, new tires for mom's poor, tread-less car. Not to mention bottled water, more bottled water, and a few tubs of red vines for sustenance. Someday, maybe Costco will see fit to place a few bids at the auction. After all, they owe us parents big! The Livestock Auction is also the evening before the-great-day-of-weeping-and-gnashing-of-teeth, also known as the day Wilbur gets hauled off in a butcher's truck. If you've been around this block a time or two, you'll probably make sure your champions are gorging themselves at Dairy Queen at approximately the same time the truck arrives.  And that's usually a perfect opportunity to bring up the small matter of your fee.


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