Friday, August 12, 2011

Kent County Youth Fair

This past Monday I had the opportunity to go to the Kent County Youth Fair. As some of you know, I was raised as a city boy. Born in Detroit, raised in Wayne County. Not a lot of farms or farming opportunities. The closest I came to a farm growing up was going to Grosse Pointe Farms. Not exactly a farm boy.

From Kent County Fair

Fast forward 30 or 40 years. I am living in west Michigan, specifically, Grand Rapids. Just a few miles away from our home there and you are in the country. Lots and lots of farms. A former Sailor I worked with (who retired a year or so before I did from the Navy) took up residence in Lowell, a small and very agrarian town about 10 miles east of where there are lots of small and medium sized farms. My former fellow Sailor is named Mike and last Monday he invited me to go with him to the Kent County Youth Fair. Mike's two kids were racing their horses and he wanted me to see them race.

I hopped in my 3 Series and headed to Lowell. Mike and his wife Rhonda and I grabbed a bite at a local watering hole, then we headed to the Youth Fair. This was the first youth/county fair I had been to in a long, long time. Rhonda went to the stables to meet up with Kristen and Kaitlin, who would soon race their horses. Needless to say, Kristen and Kaitlin came in first in their respective classes. When I see people like Kristen and Kaitlin, it gives me great hope for our future. They are both growing up to be fine young women.

Mike and I went to the livestock barns where we saw cows, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens, etc. All of the animals at the Fair were raised by young men and women during the past 18 months or so to be shown and judged. It was really amazing to see these animals who were clearly carefully raised by future aspiring farmers.

From Kent County Fair
From Kent County Fair

From Kent County Fair

From the livestock barns, Mike and I went to the main arena where pigs were being shown. Mike told me that the the pigs that these young men and women had raised were being judged on how well the were handled by the owners. There was a lot of pigs running about and I did not quite understand what I was watching. There was lots of squealing and pig herding, and it was great fun to watch the porkers be handled.

What truly impressed me where the young men and women who clearly took great pride in their work raising and looking after their animals. It was clear to me that these animals were well cared for, and that their caretakers learned a lot about responsibility tending to their animals. After watching a few rounds of judging, Mike and I went to see his daughters race their horses. Unfortunately, the camera I had was not good enough to capture good images of the horses racing (the sun was setting and the light was ebbing away), but here are a few pictures of what I was able to capture of the racing:

Back to the piggies. Almost all of the livestock shown at the Kent County Youth fair is auctioned off and the profits are then passed on to the young adults who raised them. The past few years, Deirdre and I have purchased a pig from one of Mike's friends who raises them. The pork from the pigs we have purchased last us about 9-10 months and the quality of the meat is nothing short of amazing. This year, Mike suggested that we purchase a pig from one of the exhibitors, which sounded like an excellent idea. I was unable to be at the auction yesterday, but Mike represented me well.

From The Pig

Mike was my agent at the auction and he purchased a 255lb male barrow pig. On Saturday, this pig will be sent to the Pinckney Hill Meat Meat Company for processing. As is sometimes said, chickens are involved by the pig is committed.

From The Pig

Here is an image of Mike and the pig, whom we have temporarily named Wilbur:

From The Pig

In a few weeks, the freezer in our basement will be re-stocked with the highest quality meat you can imagine. Look for more stores and recipe about the meat at at my other blog. Next year, I am going to the auction!


Lisa said...

It is good to commune with your next meal. I smell bacon!!!!!!


bruce doll/KCYF Board said...

loved your article - is it ok if we repost it on our site ...

Paul's Blog said...

For Bruce Doll, please feel free to repost this article on your website. I am looking forward to the Youth Fair in 2012!