Friday, August 25th, 2017
It’s STATE FAIR TIME!
If you live in Minnesota, you know what that means! 12 days of all things Minnesota: fried food on a stick, sunburn, the Grandstand, the giant slide, concerts, machinery hill, the Miracle of Birth Center, Sweet Martha’s Cookies, the Mighty Midway, millions (yes, millions) of Minnesotans…I really could go on and on.
Naturally, I while I love all of those things, I love the livestock the most.
While you may say, “the Horse Barn must be your favorite place”…I, out of good faith, have to stop you right there. I hold no bias; horses, sheep, pigs, poultry, rabbits, cattle. I have room for every single one of them in my heart. In fact, just like many other 4-Her’s and FFA kids, the whole livestock area of the fairgrounds, each building, holds a special place for me.
I’ve spent my fair share of nights sleeping in the Cattle Barn, feeding horses at 6 am in the Horse Barn, carting tack to and from the trailer, pushing those awful ancient manure carts all around tarnation. Memories of leading my horses down the streets, competing in the coliseum, riding after dark with friends in what is now the AgStar Arena. The early mornings in the deserted streets, the quiet in the middle of the city.
So when Paul and I decided to go to the State Fair at 6am this morning, I was pumped when the forecast showed rain. Less people of the public, more quiet moments. More families walking around in PJ’s feeding animals, more animals out in the streets before the masses arrive (many draft horses to my extreme excitement!), more kids bringing their heifers to the Milking Parlor, because the cows don’t care that they’re at the fair – they need milking all the same. The roosters – Oh the roosters! – crowing. The sheep in their blankets to protect their wool, the piglets nursing under the heat lamp.
I just soaked it all in.
It’s a different feeling being at the fair as a participant and not an attendee. Not a vacation, but an extra heaping of work. The achievement in making it to the state fair is very evident in the pride taken in the cleanliness of the stalls and quality of the animals. The kids worked hard for this. The families invested their lives in this. The animals aren’t there to be “cute,” they’re there because our state’s economy and many families livelihoods depend on them. A crucial part in what makes Minnesota what it is agriculturally.
I tip my hat to you, fellow livestock owners/raisers and farmers. Keep doing what you’re doing – I appreciate what you do!
Let’s change gears here and talk photography. As I took pictures in the limited light and wet streets this morning, I couldn’t help but think of shooting with film. So, in the spirit of that, and the history of the fair, I edited my images to black and white, and tried to capture the feeling of film.
The way was shooting was in such a spirit of photojournalism with candid, imperfect moments that I knew I wasn’t going to be able to share just one image today. So I’m splurging – I hope you enjoy them!
Draft horses making their rounds this morning:
Inside and outside of the Milking Parlor:
Owners (along with early spectators) busy completing morning chores in the Cattle Barn:
Sleepy sheep slowly getting their blankets removed:
Piglets nursing under a heat lamp:
**Main image of the day comes from a class of Dairy Steers in the coliseum this morning.
What’s your favorite part of the fair? Leave a comment and tell me about it!