It's that time of year again. Time for livestock shows, fair rides, junk food and fellowship among agriculture friends and family. For many, state fairs are already well underway. In the next two weeks, I will be attending both the Minnesota and South Dakota state fairs. This Friday, I will watch my future sister-in-law show her Maine-Anjou steer. Next week, I will help my family as we exhibit six head at South Dakota's annual event. We are hauling up two yearling heifers, a show steer, two bull prospects and a futurity female, appropriately named Miss Bliss, as she is a wedding present from my parents. Thanks, Mom and Dad! Anyway, as I packed and prepared for the fair frenzy that is about to commence, I started to think about how these events are prime opportunities to connect with our consumers.
Sure, it's easy to get swept away in the cattle shows; there is so much going on with chores, washing, cleaning tie-outs, fitting and clipping calves and getting the exhibitors and their animals to the show ring on time. I have often observed young competitors at the fair lounging in the cattle barn, sitting on their show boxes and avoiding eye contact with those passing by in the aisle. Maybe these young people are tired, bored or intimidated to strike up a conversation. For me, that's no excuse.
It's time to step outside of our comfort zones and visit with those folks walking down the barn aisles. I challenge each of you to brush up on some agriculture fun facts and share them with the crowds walking by. It's as simple as starting up a conversation while you're up sweeping the aisle or cleaning up behind a calf. It only takes a minute to make that connection and, for many consumers, it might be the only interaction with a farmer or rancher they have each year.
So, make a good impression and share our story. State fairs are more than fluffing up hair for the show and winning trophies. This is our opportunity to win over the ones who count the most, the ones who drive beef demand and keep us all in business -- our consumers. And, if you happen to be at the Minnesota or South Dakota state fairs, be sure to stop by and visit with me. I would love to hear from you and learn which topics I should focus on in the upcoming months. See you at the fair!