My husband is very thorough when it comes to maintenance and care on all of our vehicles. A couple of weeks before the fair, my van had some parts replaced so it would be in great shape to take on a long drive and Art was checking out the camper too. Unfortunately it needed some parts replaced that were wearing out. The day before we were supposed to leave we still did not have the parts we needed, so we would not be able to take the camper with us. That left us with two choices. We could make the over 2 hour drive back and forth twice, or spend the night in a hotel. If we chose the hotel we would have to make some arrangements for the dog since it was a Saturday and we could not board her. We decided to stay in a hotel. I was able to book 2 adjoining rooms at a hotel that was recommended to us (well I thought I did but actually I booked the hotel next door by mistake which meant no Continental Breakfast) and worked out some arrangements for the dog.
We left at 7:00 am on Sunday morning. The day before we left, it was in the mid 90's, but a cold front was coming through. It also brought some much needed rain. Since we had never been to the fair before, our 4 h Ag Agent met us in Little Rock so we could follow her to the livestock gate and she could walk us through the process. I was very thankful for that!
We arrived a little after 9 and got the goats and our stuff unloaded. We did not think to unload our cooler or the clothes the boys needed to change into and did not realize how far away we would have to park once everything was unloaded. After giving the goats a chance to eat, we walked them over to be processed. First they had to be checked in and weighed. Alex's goat was 56 pounds and Christians was 67. They had to be examined by a vet, and the weigh cards had to be signed by the exhibitor and a parent. The boys also signed up to participate in the showmanship show.
We got the goats back to the pen. It was still rainy and miserable outside. We waited until 11 and then fed the always starving children. We ate with the goats in the goat barn. We were in stall 327 out of 329. That's a lot of goats!
After we ate the boys washed and dried both of the goats. Then we took the children to this really cool family farm/petting zoo that the FFA had set up. Inside there were different type of educational farming exhibits: a combine simulator, a cow you could milk, stuffed chickens and eggs, a horse, corn, soybeans, and rice, and a fake apple tree.
The petting zoo had farm puppies. goats, turkeys, ducks, rabbits, pigs, camels, llamas, a miniature horse, 4 horned sheep, a zedonk (cross between a zebra and a donkey that is just crazy to me) a red kangaroo, and more that I am forgetting. We had a lot of fun in there!
Then the boys had to get ready for the show. Showmanship is separated by age of the child. All the 9 year olds, then 10 year olds, 11 year olds, etc... The top 5 get ribbons and the top two go on to complete in their division (9-13 year olds then 14-18 year olds.) The showmanship was good practice for the boys. We did not expect to win anything we were just going for the experience.
After the show it was time for rides and games. The rain had stopped and the sun was out. I could not believe that my little girls went on such big rides!! To be honest I didn't want them to and couldn't watch when they did! They even rode the roller coaster! Some of the bigger rides Emmie was not tall enough to go on, so she did ride some of the smaller kiddie rides. It is not easy to take photos of the children on rides so I didn't get very many.
By 8:00 we were exhausted and headed to the hotel. We grabbed Subway for supper and turned on the end of The Peanuts movie while we ate and got everyone cleaned up and ready for bed. I was thankful for comfy beds and that we were able to get some sleep because we had to get up bright and early the next morning to head back!
We were moving slower in the morning then I wanted to. Since the hotel did not have breakfast, we were hoping to pass a McDonalds on the way but we didn't and did not have time to look for one. Actually, we barely made it in time to get the goats fed and get Alex lined up for his class. The classes were divided by weight of the goat with around 20 goats in each class (Alex's was smaller and only had 15.) All of the exhibitors go in the ring and the judge chooses 10 to stay and the others are excused without a ribbon. Then the bottom three were lined up while the other continued to be judged until decisions are made for 1st-7th. Alex was shocked to be in the top 10 and earned a 10th place ribbon. Christian did not earn a ribbon.
It was a good experience for the boys. They had fun even though they were very nervous. We learned a lot to keep in mind to improve for next year!