Monday, August 1, 2016

A Perspective: The Morrill County Fair

A reliable indicator to the number of split-screens it takes to watch the Morrill County Fair unfold depends on how many whys you went in the first place.

Personally, I needed one split screen. I watched wascally wabbits on one and on the other I witnessed the ominous results of sending three polite little pigs to the market without a chaperone to bring them home.

The young participants in the rabbit arena gently, but firmly, held their rabbits somewhat still as they recounted their hares family tree. Also, each showman gave a four-sided, i.e. front, rear, and both sides, display of their rabbit that included all features and perfections or imperfections.

While holding a nervous rabbit relatively quiet, the dissertations were nervously expounded with eye-to-eye contact between the speaker and the judge. Even with distractions from the rabbit, the crowd, and their anxiety, each participant did well. After each presentation the judge asked a question that tested the participants overall knowledge about rabbits.

Overall, the arena where the participants discussed the wares of their hares was relatively quiet. In my opinion this meant extra pressure on the show person because their every move and word was under scrutiny.

After the show they received their plaques and ribbons to well-deserved applause.

On the other screen I watched the hogs do their thing, which was the polar opposite of the rabbit show. Grunting and squealing the hogs were herded into the arena. Cleared of the serenity of the rabbit show, the hogs turned it into their own personal place of pandemonium.

The object: Each participator steered their overloaded with poundage creature past the judge. To direct these devoid-of-manners-flat-nosed creations the guides used fiber glass batons.

The picture: An undersized pathfinder led their oversized hog past the judge with the hog between them and the judge. This was so the judge had an unobstructed view of the hog. He called the process a “ham sandwich” because there were two humans on the outside and the hog in the middle.

More interesting was the way they simply tapped the hog with the baton to get it to respond. If the hog stuck its snout into the dirt, the guide would tap the hog under its chin to get it to lift its head. To get it to turn right, or left, the guide would tap it on the respective shoulder.

If the hog stopped they’d tap it on its buttocks.

I stared in wonder as this process worked, not always with precision but it worked. I fantasized a young trainer one-on-one with his or hers hog in a pen somewhere in the country. I’m sure the trainer had a flip-chart to show the hog how to respond. After the presentation and tryout, the trainer and hog would have a question and answer session to make sure both understood the script.

They were ready for the fair.

As an important passing point of interest, adult males were in the arena with the hogs and kids for a protective presence should one or two of the hogs get ornery. The young hog attendants were never left on their own.

The hog display ended with the awarding of plaques and ribbons.

Two aspects of the rabbit and hog show impressed me: First, for the rabbit show, is the time involved memorizing presentations, and, for the hog show, finding a comfort level of walking next to a cantankerous hog.

The second, regardless of individual success, the majority of the kids will return next year with hearts again full of positive expectations.

They learn that rewards are related to the amount of excrement they step in and clean, and clean again, from their shoes.

Congrats to all and thank you for displaying your handiwork. The pleasure was mine and I look forward to seeing most of you again next year.



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