7 Survival Tips for a Long Show
Some show days are long. Some shows are a few days or can stretch into a week, even more. Sure, stock show folks love it. Yet, sometimes the down time can get to a person. It is possible to keep that livestock show spirit fresh no matter how many hours, days or weeks you’ve spent in a show barn.
Not just with your crew. Get out there and meet people. Mingle with breeders, breed reps, salespeople and other showmen. A show is a great place to network for your farm or business. Countless deals have been made standing in shavings with the roar of Circuiteer blowers in the background. Of course, business isn’t the only reason to socialize. Livestock show folks have friends all over the USA. Not because they went to school together or because they found each other on social media. These cross-continent friendships were forged in the barn, bonded over the jitters of a first set of livestock judging reasons, strengthened by the trouble you got into climbing gates, throwing rocks, and getting your showmanship clothes dirty. Livestock show friendships are the ties that bind. Put yourself out there and make some!
Tap into the Knowledge
A show barn is a wealth of knowledge. Find the folks you want to learn from and soak up what they know. If there’s a fitter you admire, watch him work. Better yet, strike up a conversation. There’s always an old-timer around who has been coming to that very show the last 30 years, has been breeding since before you were born or was a founding member of some association. Listen to his funny stories, tall tales and opinions on how the industry has changed. You’ll be entertained and more knowledgeable in the end.
Slow Cooker Scavenger Hunt
It’s like a food truck festival without the food trucks. So many stalls in a show barn have a delicious meal ready for the masses. Especially sheep shows. Those folks always have their homemade-but-at-the-show meals on point! Walk around the barn and visit. When they offer you a bowl, taste what’s been cooking. Play this game right and there will be no need to stop for fast food on the way home.
Late nights and early mornings in the show barn can get to the best of us. Cots, sacks, bales of hay, stands, fitting mats, pretty much anything can serve as a great place for show barn napping. A quick nap here and there can really brighten spirits, better moods and increase productivity. The only thing is – depending on the prank inclinations of your fellow exhibitors – you may need to sleep with one eye open.
Know Your Classes
You’ve spent hours or days waiting to show. You’re tired and maybe a little complacent. Still, know what classes you’re in and when they are happening. Nothing is worse at a long show than standing in the ring or the make-up area waiting on a kid who lost track of time and isn’t ready. Stay alert and remember that you’re there to show livestock. To do that, you must make it to the show ring.
Check Off the To-Do List
Down time at a show can sometimes feel like wasted time. Especially when you think of all there is to do back home. If you need to feel more productive use the time to mark some things off your to-do list. Go ahead and complete the entries for a future show. Make hotel reservations for the next overnighter. Order those custom pedigree signs you’ve been wanting. Kids can use the time to get a jump-start on the homework they promised their teacher would be finished when they returned to school. That down time can prove valuable. In fact, this blog post was written during some down time at the American Junior Simmental Association National Classic.
Kids playing tag in an empty show ring, pushing each other in wheelbarrows, climbing mulch (or manure) piles, setting up their own farms with toy tractors and plastic cows. Old timers telling stories, guys pulling pranks, parents catching up on the latest gossip. It’s all about enjoying what we do. So, among all the work, make sure to have some fun too!
Kelly and her husband, Chad, raise cattle, sheep and two children in the mountains of southwestern Virginia. Their kids are the 4th generation to grow up on the farm and show livestock. Some of the family’s very best days happen in the show barn. Some of their most contentious days happen there too. Kelly believes that a kid will build life-long friends showing livestock. After all, she is the girl that married the boy she met in the show ring. She loves educating children, especially about agriculture. She believes that even if a kid won’t grow up to work in agriculture the kid still needs to grow up to be a knowledgeable consumer. Oh, and that ranch dressing should be considered a food group.