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You Call The State Fair A Vacation?

Article-You Call The State Fair A Vacation?

cattle show

My family doesn’t vacation in Mexico or some other exotic destination, and we couldn’t even consider a 10-day cruise. It’s not because we wouldn’t want to, but frankly, we are married to the ranch and our beloved cattle. That’s why most of our family vacations involve bringing those cattle, or at least a few of them, along with us.

The South Dakota State Fair, which starts today, is our “big” vacation of the year, and our family is bringing seven head of cattle and two hogs. In addition to all the hoopla that comes with showing once or twice each day for the next five days, my little sister Kaley has school, 4-H speeches and livestock judging contests to compete in.

Of course, before we could leave, there were chores to be done at home. For instance, we’re finishing up the baling on our third cutting of alfalfa. And we had campers, trailers, kids and livestock to get ready. And to top it all off, this week is going to be the hottest week of the whole summer.


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In between the shows and contests, which my mom arranges in a color-coded calendar to keep us all on track during the fair, we try to squeeze in visits with fellow cattlemen, bull buyers and friends. These are folks we only see once each year at the fair.

The dust, the heat, late nights and early mornings, and sleeping together in a tight camper can lead to short tempers and the need to guzzle lots of caffeine. And yes, we call this a vacation and look forward to it with gusto each and every year.

Getting back from said vacation means a monumental pile of laundry, catching up on work back home, cleaning out the camper, hauling the market pigs and steers to town, and getting ready for weaning and harvest. Hopefully, along the way we can squeeze in a few naps to catch up on lost sleep.

Despite all the craziness, we consider fair week the best time of the year. It’s our chance to showcase a year of hard work, socialize with like-minded people and make a lot of memories along the way. It’s our family vacation, and we like it that way. So throw an umbrella in your cup and picture the ocean because the wash rack and a bag chair are as cool and relaxing as it’s going to get. 

Are you headed to a state fair this week or over the Labor Day weekend? If so, which one? If you’re in South Dakota, swing by the Open Class Beef barn and say hello. I would love to hear suggestions for how to make this blog better or ideas for future posts.


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