County fair: What we’ll remember

Slideshow: From the show ring to the wash rack, Prairie Farmer readers share their favorite county fair photos and memories.

Friendship. Family. Ribbons. Celebrations.

County fairs mean many things to different people.

Prairie Farmer editors asked readers in Illinois to share their fair memories on social media — and share they did.

For Haley Ratcliff, Vermont, the county fair meant hard work, determination and family time. She writes:

“We grew up working on our family ranch and showing cattle. The Fulton County Fair has been and always will be a big part of our childhood. We worked for months getting our calves ready and we couldn’t wait to go. Once the fair was over, we were already looking forward to next year! I honestly have goosebumps thinking about it right now. So many good memories happened in those barns at the Fulton County Fair. I learned to do my best and that hard work paid off especially when I won. I learned that I was going to lose sometimes, but I could always improve and try better in the next class. The fair for us is family time. My mom would always pack our lunch and bring dinner in a crock pot. We’d sit in lawn chairs and swat the flies away from our food. I could go on and on and on. I love the fair!”

Nine-year-old Teyton Henkhaus, Alhambra, showed hogs for the first time at the 2017 Madison County Fair. “He loves everything about the fair, but on the top of the list is showing his pigs, the livestock auction and ITPA tractor pull,” says his mom, Heather. Teyton worried about his show pigs, Lightening and Dozer, being away from the home barn, so he gave them both a hug goodnight in the evening.

For Ben Bushue, the Moultrie-Douglas County Fair means friends, fair food and more. “The county fair is a great time to catch up with friends that I haven't seen in a while,” he says. “It's also a chance to make some money and finally reap the benefits of taking care of these animals all year long.”

Ben took home grand champion market pen his first year. That meant a celebration was in order with his favorite part of the fair. “The thing I love the most about the county fair is the fair food,” he says. “You can eat something different every night and still not be able to eat at every food stand!”

It’s the little moments, like slow-cooker dinners around the show box, a spontaneous nighttime ritual or enjoying fair food with friends, that add up to a lifetime of memories.

We simply couldn’t share all the stories and photos Prairie Farmer readers shared, but we hope you enjoy flipping through some of our favorites.

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