Ready or not: it is time for county and state fairs across the good ‘ol U.SA. Families will descend on fairgrounds with livestock, various projects and exhibits that they have put lots of time and effort into. This week is a time to enjoy old friends, make new ones and have a great “fair” experience. The question many families find themselves asking while heading out the driveway to the fair is…
“ARE WE FORGETTING ANYTHING?”
Unfortunately, the answer is nearly always yes and the question should be posed more like: What ALL are we forgetting? So, in an effort to combat things being forgotten, I polled some of my friends who show regularly about their “must-bring” items. They submitted ideas across the board from basic necessities to off-the-wall goodies that will make fair-life a little easier on the whole family. This is not an end-all-be-all list, but perhaps a gentle reminder to remember some things that are easy to forget when you think you’ve packed it all.
I’ll start with a little list that Mike and I made up while traveling back from a recent show in Louisville. He thinks very practically, I think of things that we may end up needing (above and beyond the obvious, especially with kids in tow)… when we meet in the middle, we don’t over pack yet have enough to get by, when we are lucky.|
Again: this isn’t a complete list, just review this post after you’ve taken an initial stab at a packing list (ie: feed/watering supplies, brushes, show sticks, etc.)… you may find something you’ll need! Thanks to Shari, Crystal, Angie, Laura, Heidi and Thomas for your contributions!
Zip ties/wire – this should go without saying. Mike adds: “You never know when you will have to cobble together a gate or something.”
Pliers/sidecutters – easy to forget but oh-so-helpful.
Shop broom – to keep the aisles in the barns clean, especially important if there is a herdsmanship award given.
An extra 5 gallon bucket – having a small trash receptacle in the tack pen keeps everything a little neater.
Large garbage bags/Small grocery sacks – for trash at the show, a means of transporting dirty clothes, etc.
Baby Wipes/Hand Sanitizer Wipes/Handsoap & paper towels– keeps sticky kids clean(er) and happier.
Extra changes of clothes – this goes without saying. Sweaty kids, water-gun fight aftermath, wash rack messiness, sometimes a change of clothes saves the day. (*Keep an extra pair of shoes in the car, only to wear in the car. Also, an old towel to sit on is always nice.)
A fan… for PEOPLE. – Usually fair-time is a hot time of year and fans are needed to keep livestock cool and happy. Bring an extra fan to keep the people happy too, always a bonus if a grandparent or small child is overheated.
Plenty of chairs to sit in – never underestimate the happiness of your tired feet when you get off of them.
Chain and padlock – things usually don’t grow feet and walk away, but occasionally borrowed items don’t make it back, likely because people forget who they borrowed them from. Chain up anything you want to keep, especially overnight.
FIRST AID KIT – when I remember take a few bandages in my purse, I feel amazing about my mothering abilities, but always seem to need more supplies – just my luck. I bought a first aid kit on Amazon and it is loaded with goodies like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, bandages, antibiotic ointment, gauze, ice packs, you name it! Better safe than sorry because when you need the communal county fair first aid kit it always seems to be devoid of whatever items you need.
A Sharpie – to write your name on various belongings. AND: If you have tiny kids, write your cell phone number on their arm, or on a piece of duct tape and put it on the back of their shirt. If you are at a bigger fair and they get lost, someone can call you right away instead of going through the pain of extra time with a missing kid and embarrassment of having your name announced and “LOST CHILD” in the same sentence over the fair P.A. system.
Here are more ideas from my friends around the Midwest!
The Credit Card
“It is inevitable that something will be forgotten or something will go less than ideal when at the show. You didn’t bring enough Final Bloom, forgot the showstick, heaven forbid you blow a tire. Or maybe the show goes so well that you will want to do a little celebrating – donuts for everyone, cold ones for the adults or a steak supper for your crew that helped you achieve your goals. P.S. showing ain’t cheap, but there is no better way to spend time with family and friends.” – Crystal Blin – co-owner of JJB Cattle Co. and blogger, Crystal Cattle, http://crystalcattle.blogspot.com/, @crystalcattle SnapChat, Twitter and Instagram.
Kid Friendly Food Choices and Binder-Vault of Info
“My ‘don’t leave home without it anymore’ items for stock shows are lifesavers! People laugh, but I have a microwave that I bring in the trailer, along with a big Rubbermaid tote full of instant mac ‘n cheese, microwave popcorn, hot dogs, hot chocolate, cheese dip, and of course all of the kid necessities like fruit by the foot, chips, cookies etc. Once we get to the show, if it’s hot and we have the electricity hooked up to the trailer, I just put the microwave in the nose and have ready-make-snacks! If we don’t hook up the electricity, I have been known to carry my microwave into the barn and make lunch in the corner by an outlet. This has saved us many dollars worth of concession stand food that the kids may or may not finish! The other thing I don’t leave home without anymore, I actually got from a fellow show Dad. I have a black binder with page protectors that is filled with registration papers, pig weights, health papers, safety pins for exhibitor numbers, a checkbook, a pen etc. I keep it all in the binder and the binder never leaves the truck!” – Shari Bakker, Monsanto Mom-of-The-Year Nominee and show mom, find her family’s business at: Bakker Bros. Genetics https://www.facebook.com/bakkerbros.genetics/
The “Go Box”
“Don’t forget the pigs! Seriously, we put them on the list every time because it could happen. Or other go to is the “go box.” We keep paper goods, silverware, BBQ tools, extra garbage bags and some snacks. It also has wipes, hand sanitizer, sunscreen and first aid. We keep a few snacks and maybe a t-shirt in there in case Armageddon strikes. It’s always ready to go when we decide at the last minute to take off. There may or may not be a bottle of Tito’s in there! The most important thing we have at a show is our show family. If we’ve forgotten something, they will have it.” – Angie Mowbray – promotional marketing genius and creator of all my Food & Swine gear. apromotion.geiger.com, Facebook – Angie Dalbey-Mowbray, Insta – mowbray1, Snap: adalbey73
Safety Pins, Hair Stuff
I’m not a show mom, but I pack the tack box and coolers now that I’m old enough! Some of the “odd” things we pack usually are safety pins, not necessarily odd but often forgotten are safety pins, hairspray and hair ties! As a family Dunn of girls we always need hairspray and hair ties, but the safety pins are for the exhibitor number. We don’t have a clip or a harness to wear and always used to lose the safety pins that we needed for our exhibitor numbers! Also, something that a coworker of mine suggested and that they pack are baby wipes that are chilled by freezing them, or keeping them in the cooler. We get dirty at the fair and it’s HOT so using the baby wipes on our faces to cool us down and clean up a bit is nice.” – Laura Yoder – @LauraYoder22 on Twitter and Instagram
“Our kids each have a backpack they bring to the show that contains their choice of items and activities, a change of clothes and a football. I tell ya the show moms are integral part of the shows, as everyone already knows. Sometimes I wish I could give awards to the moms too! The fact that we stay up to wee hours in the night making snacks, helping pack the trailer and rounding up all of the kids…might be a reason I always forget something for myself!” Heidi Rohrig, Livestock Plus Inc. http://livestockplusinc.com/
Show Dad Sleep Deprivation Survival Kit
“It is no question the weeks/months of preparation for a show can be summed up in what seems less than a minute in the ring. That can carry a pretty stressful burden on any show parent. Though this kit may not save you from every opportunity to explode… it will definitely put a little extra bounce in your step. Aleve (or cheap knock off): No explanation needed…things are going to hurt by the end of the week. ‘Spark’ or caffeine of choice: This may be one of the biggest gifts from above for show parents…this stuff is legit. Feel a little tired or loss of focus…one scoop and your back in the game BIG TIME! ‘Rehydrate’ or an electrolyte drink: Well, this may taste like a churched up glass of salt water, but if you not drinking enough of ‘the right kind of fluids’ during the show week…you are likely a bit dehydrated and this stuff works like a champ. Take it every night and thank me in the morning. I think we all get so busy taking care of our kids and the animals, we forget about ourselves and get behind. This will help you feel better.” – Thomas Titus – Dad, Farmer, Agvocate and part time show pig enthusiast, @1thomas_titus Insta and Twitter, @titus_thomas on Snap