When I said that the dog show was the most exciting part of the fair, I should have qualified that by saying it was the most exciting part for me. Not that it wasn’t exciting for Madeline, but I’ve noticed this week that whenever someone asks her about the fair the first thing she tells them about is the ribbon auction.
Each 4-H’er showing beef, dairy, swine, or sheep is allowed to auction off one of their ribbons on the last day of the fair. Most of the ribbons are bought by very generous grandparents or very generous sponsors – local businesses like the grain elevator, vet, locker, etc.
Madeline took a pen of 3 stocker beef calves. These aren’t shown in the ring on halter, but penned and judged as a group. The main considerations are the daily rate of gain and break-even price. We knew our rate of gain was not going to be stellar. We just don’t feed our beef feedlot-style. We forewarned Madeline that she probably wouldn’t receive a blue ribbon on the project. But we felt it would still be a good experience for her because she would have to explain what we do and why we do it. Something we find ourselves doing quite often.
Off to the fair
She was extremely nervous about talking to the judge. She remarked, “I bet even Grandpa won’t buy my ribbon if it’s a red or a white.” And she had a long day of waiting her turn. The beef show started at 8:30 with the individual market beef animals on halter, then the breeding animals on halter, then the pens of which she was the last to be judged around 1:00.
After the judge was done with her they announced what ribbon each entry received. But they didn’t announce any ribbon for her. “Oh great, I was so bad I don’t get a ribbon.” So they headed over to the 4-H office to find out what was going on. As it turned out, she did get a blue ribbon.
So on ribbon auction day Grandpa started bidding. But the manager of the grain elevator was bidding against him. Grandpa hung in there. As Madeline put it in a cellphone call to me right after, “Jerry kept bidding and bidding against Grandpa, but finally he couldn’t take it anymore so Grandpa won AND I GOT THREE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DOLLARS FOR MY RIBBON! I told Grandpa thank-you about a hundred times, and then I bought him a malt.”
I didn’t think she would take a beef project again next year. I think Grandpa just proved me wrong.