I’m dealing with fair fatigue.

Any NFPW member who ever was a 4-H member (leader, parent, friend, volunteer) or ever worked for a rural newspaper or the county office of a state university’s Extension Service knows exactly what I’m feeling this first full day after the week-long Buffalo County Fair.

For you city folks, all I can do is list some of the energy sapping parts of the experience: early mornings, late nights, long hot days, lots of people, noisy animals, loud music, spinning colored lights of carnival rides, and stories to write and photos to sort with a brain that stopped functioning properly hours earlier.

There can be a lot of waiting around at a fair, especially when there is an animal judge who is, let’s say diplomatically, very meticulous. A week ago today (Wednesday) it took from 8 in the morning to after 9 at night to complete the 4-H Horse Show, even though the timed events – pole bending, barrel racing and roping – had been done Tuesday night.

I will always have a love-hate relationship with the county fair. I know the same is true for all the exhibitors, 4-H families, Extension staff and others whose hours on the fairgrounds were much longer than mine and responsibilities much greater.

One thing we probably all have in common is an urge to punch anyone who asks, “Are you having fun at the fair” at a particularly bad time in the middle of fair week.

I enjoy taking photos at the fair. What more could you want than kids, animals and wild rides?

Carnival, fireball3-crop

I like to visit with the many people I know from the ag community. It’s a joy to see the youngest exhibitors who were scared to death to enter a show ring come away excited and happy.

I greatly admire the 4-H families who are producing outstanding livestock, baked goods, garden produce, sewing projects and many other things. I admire them even more for the amazing children they are raising.

4-H swine, Mykayla Tincher, Kearney

These kids embrace the hard work and dedication required to raise animals. They are polite, respectful, good sports and fun-loving.

4-H Rabbits, Heidi Weekley, Amherst

Yes, there was a certain amount of time spent talking and texting on phones, but not at the expense of a job that needed doing. I actually saw a group of teenage boys playing a card game with upside down coolers used as tables.

Every mid-July, I go through the same cycle of kind of looking forward to the county fair, enjoying some of the events, thinking after a few days that it will never be over and vowing that I cannot cover one more county fair in my career.

We all have those big projects in our work that nearly send us to the end of our ropes. They’re the “I’d rather quit that do that again and feel this worn out again” projects.

The truth is that deep down, I know that next July I will again start highlighting the schedule of fair events and prepare to do the whole thing again.