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Lake County Fair August 1, 2006

Posted by gregquill in Uncategorized.

The Lake County Fair in Grayslake, IL, was held from July 25 to July 30, 2006. It was wonderful, and except for a few heat induced lightning storms turning the motocross track into a moat, the weather was great. (It was hot, though: temperatures in the 100’s with the heat index around 110.)

Some of the 4-H kids and Future Farmers of America (FFA) had to sit with their animals during public viewing, and it was hot, boring work. A goat just doesn’t have the personality of a dog!

One tent had a petting zoo, with baby bison (and a visiting goat).

In bigger state fairs I have seen (Minnesota, New York, Missouri, etc.), there are more attractions, famous music performers and bigger rides. But this one was small enough so that one could see many things closer than is possible at the big fairs. I saw my first live rodeo (four events – calf roping, steer wrestling, bucking broncos and bull riding) in an hour and a half. Unlike TV, each event was limited to 15 minutes, with rodeo clowns in between. This dude used his lariat on cattle, while another cowboy did many rope tricks and bullwhip stunts.

There were several barns with animals on display – cattle, pigs and hogs, poultry, goats and smaller critters. Most were 4H sponsored. Do you know what the 4H’s are?*

I followed a champion 3-year-old steer from the show tent to cleaning and auction.

The steer, still a calf, was 4’6″ tall at the shoulders and weighed 1,800 pounds. The cattle here had their names displayed, though they didn’t name beef cattle I saw at the Missouri fair. One youngster explained, “That makes it too hard to say goodbye.” The owner, a girl of 17, curried and cleaned every square inch of the steer with a spray containing lanolin and a long toothed curry comb. And a hair dryer!

I went to the auction, and I got a seat in the second row. I was careful NOT to raise my hands at all during the bidding, even to scratch my nose! This steer had already been named Grand Champion of the fair by the judges the day before. A professional auction firm ran the event, and it was a lot less confusing in person than it seems in the movies. They sold the cattle by the pound, on the hoof, and this one fetched $7.50 per pound. The buyer can keep the steer, donate it to the Illinois Food Bank (and pony up the “processing” fee, too), or give it as a gift. Since it is already a steer, it cannot be used for breeding.

The owner hauled it around during the bidding, and after making eye contact with the winning bidder, she mouthed a sincere thank you to the young family. The $13,500 will go a way toward her college education, her dad told us. I suspect that he is in the dairy business, and I suspect that she is raising several steers a year or two apart in age. The runner up sold for $4.75 per pound, so it pays to have the champion.

There was a lot more to see, and to eat. A fine day, and a chance to be proud of America and particularly of American kids.

*4H stands for Head, Hands, Heart, and Health.



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