I had the privilege to go home last weekend and watch my hometowns county spring livestock show. I decided to take my camera and take some ring side pictures of the kids showing their animals, and show off their hard work on the Raised in a Barn social media pages. As someone who had showed livestock, I have to admit I've never really stood by the parents and watched by them. Sure, I've went back and watched my little brother show by sitting in the stands, but standing on that ring side I got a small glimpse of a much bigger picture. The very first thing I noticed was the vast amount of people flocking to the ring side. Parents, fitters, and agricultural educators stood by the ring side hoping their kids would win or at least do their best. I had a great chat with some of the parents who told me about how hard their kids had been working. It was amazing to see the amount of support these kids had. No, not every seat was filled during the stock show, but the people there made up for those empty seats.
I was struck by all of the emotions these livestock exhibitors face. I watched the tears begin as some of the seniors walked out of the show ring for the last time. I watched a few kids get angry, because they were having a rough show day (which we've all been there before.) I even watched a few people come out with so much joy, that their smile stretched from ear to ear, especially from a little boy who was beyond excited about his blue ribbon.
When you show livestock you worry about whats happening inside that show ring. You might occasionally smile at your mom in the stands or look at your dad for advice, but you never get to see the big picture. The big picture is what you the livestock exhibitor are in. That moment that the show ring has a kid in it that has worked hard everyday for that show, is the big picture. The amount of work and life long lessons learned through showing livestock, that is what its all about.
Now every time I go to a livestock show to watch my little brother show, I sit in the stands more nervous than when I use to show livestock. In fact, all of my emotions for showing livestock are stronger sitting in those very uncomfortable stands. As an old has been, I offer some advice for the stock show kids. Don't blink, it goes by faster than you think.
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