Back to the fair grind - and happy about it
A trio of Mollala FFA members are back in the show world at this year's Clackamas County Fair and appear happy to return after a year's break.
Emma Walsh, Chase Martin and Theo Nunn were that familiar kind of busy during the fair, the kind that only someone showing animals at the fair can relate to. Add to that the outside interests that are going on in their lives and it gets hectic. But they don't mind.
Walsh is a sophomore-to-be at Molalla High School, and she's showing a cow calf and a pair of heifers. She's busy, usually competing at the Linn County and Clark County fairs as well. Getting back into the fair lifestyle has been interesting, she said.
"It's a lot of work, and when you're not used to it (after missing last year) it can surprise you," Walsh said. "You kind of have to get back into the routine again. But after the first day, things just get back to normal."
Walsh isn't showing as many cows this year as she normally does, but she's staying busy. And the chance to mix and mingle with the folks she competes with and against, as well as the casual observers, has been nice.
"It's been nice to see so many people," she said.
With no county fairs in 2020, Walsh said she kept busy by working more with her cows, going out for the track team at Molalla High for the first time, and getting into a book series from author Megan Whalen Turner. She also worked hard in her first year of high school, getting straight A's.
But with that time off, she also tried to keep a routine with the animals she would show, going through many of the steps that take place during the fair.
"I was still doing what I kind of always do, so I hope I'd improve with so much time to work on it," she said.
The work paid off as she got first in her showmanship class for her age group.
The senior-to-be at Molalla High School isn't a hard-core county fair show kind of guy. He tends to enjoy rodeoing and sports in general. At the fair, he's showing a steer, but he not only has to tend to that animal, he has to balance that with football practice every afternoon. Then it's back to Canby for more fair chores.
And he's OK with that.
"It's great to be back," he said. "It's kind of weird how when we talk we say it like 'At last year's fair,' but it has been two years ago. I'm just happy being around people and getting to kind of do it again. There's a feeling of normalcy to it."
Yet it isn't quite normal as some buildings require masks and many of the people walking through the fair are sporting them as well. Still, the chance to get out and enjoy the fair atmosphere puts an optimistic shine on things.
Usually, Martin will show multiple animals, but "I'm doing just the steer this year," he said.
The 17-year-old Molalla High FFA member has been showing since he was in the fourth grade. Like Martin, he usually shows multiple animals, but this year he's sticking with the llamas.
He's also glad to be back.
"It's kind of nice to get back into this rhythm," he said. "The only thing I don't like is people touching my critters without my permission. That's really been bugging me lately."
People's hands aside, Nunn has gotten into a nice rhythm — chores in the morning, making sure his siblings, who are also showing at the fair, are set to go, and then helping them get where they need to go.
With attempts to put more show rings outside this year to enhance social distancing, Nunn and his siblings are all over the placee.
"It's a full day here at the fair," he said.
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