Sunday, August 16, 2015

Fair Chaos

Things at our house this week are a bit stressful. OK, maybe that is a little bit of an understatement. We are in full blown fair chaos this week and everyone’s blood pressure is on the upper end. Each year we say we are going to be more prepared but this year marks our tenth year of fair week chaos. I think being unprepared is terminal.
Fair week is like nothing else at our place, each year it seems like we have some calamity befall us this week. My favorite was the year we had no water. Yes, we had been going through a dry spell and the day before the fair our well gave out. There may be a few of you out there that have not experienced fair week so I assure you that water is a critical element of preparation for the fair. Between washing animals and cooking it is absolutely necessary to have water to avoid a fair meltdown.
Last year it was the pickup. I thought we were on our way to being somewhat organized and ready for the fair. So organized that I thought ahead and decided to get more sheep feed so we would not run out mid-fair. Upon arriving at the feed store I noticed a black film around the bottom of my pickup. The rear main seal had gone out and the pickup was down for the count (or at least the fair). Yes, the pickup is a critical piece of fair equipment. Luckily, this crisis was averted by having spare worn out pickups around.
This year our crisis (so far) seems to be too many tasks and too few hours. I compared notes with my friends and this seems to be a common crisis among families with older teens. For weeks maybe even months Mom and Dad encouraged (nagged) and reminded that the fair seems to sneak up on us and maybe it would be easier if we completed things earlier. We have plenty of time was the most common response.
Now it is fair week and suddenly all those projects must be completed by the end of the week. Suddenly we are counting days, hours and minutes and they are not adding up to enough time. Work reaches a frantic pace and fuses get shorter and shorter.  We have officially reached crisis level. In the middle of all the chaos Jennifer expressed frustration (to put it mildly) and I reminded her that we only have three more fairs as 4-H parents after this one.
It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were washing Jethro, the bucket calf, and the crisis that year was the unknown of being a first year 4-H family. That year there were several of us with new 4-H families and we all talked about how we were going to be in 4-H forever. I am not sure but I would guess that the grizzled veteran 4-H parents were shaking their heads at our naivety. Even with the annual crisis the years have flown by and we have made it through all of them with the scars to prove it.
Dealing with those fair week crisis situations is part of the learning experience. I also suspect that years from now we will look back and laugh about each year’s disaster.  My guess is that how we dealt with the crisis will be what we remember and not how well the projects placed that year. We will survive and the fair will have gone on in spite of the frantic preparations in the days before.
I also know that next week in the wake this year’s fair we will make plans to be more organized next year. If I was a betting man, I would say that in spite of all the best of intentions next year will be just as frantic. I would also bet that something unexpected will happen that will throw a giant monkey wrench into those frantic, last minute preparations. I would also be that we will survive the chaos and the crisis and complete yet another year.
I am not sure what the crisis will be in each of the next three years. However, I think I have an idea what the crisis will be four years from now. My guess is that Jennifer and I will realize that it is the week before the fair and we have no kids in 4-H and no projects to frantically get ready at the last minute. I am not sure, but I think that may be the greatest crisis of all.

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