I just wrapped up covering the 2023 Poweshiek County Fair, July 8 and July 11 – 16, in Grinnell. This is my 24th year to cover the Poweshiek County Fair and 27th county fair overall since moving to Iowa in December 1997.
I take great pride in knowing that my streak of covering swine shows continues onward. I have photographed a lot of hogs, pigs or swine, as they are called, having never missed a year. Even during the three-year stretch that I wasn’t working for a newspaper, I still attended and covered the Poweshiek County 4-H and FFA Swine Show and the rest of the fair.
I have also enjoyed a lot of pork chops, ham sandwiches and bacon and probably have eaten some of the pigs I have taken photos of through the years.
I have attended the Poweshiek County Fair long enough that I am now taking photos of kids of kids I photographed when I first arrived at the Montezuma Republican on July 20, 2000.
I had just covered the Iowa County Fair the previous week and two days after arriving in Montezuma, I found myself covering the Poweshiek County Fair. I didn’t know a soul. Had it not been for a Montezuma family, I would have been totally lost.
I take great pride in covering and supporting the 4-H and FFA programs in Poweshiek County. This includes covering the county fair and various events at area schools throughout the school year. Anything I can do to support these local youth programs is time well spent.
It has led to me receiving the FFA Blue and Gold Award and the Friend of 4-H Award some years ago.
I also have great respect for 4-H leaders and FFA advisors who spend hours helping young people get ready to show an animal, create a project or participate in a state or national contest. Thanks also goes to all the parents and family members who spend hours helping their children with their projects. Seeing them shine, no matter how they placed, is something to celebrate.
Having grown up in the big city, I wasn’t involved in agriculture.
My grandparents on my mom’s side of the family had an old milk cow. My mom loved the opportunity to bring home a gallon or two of fresh cow milk when visiting. She had a churn and sometimes would make fresh butter. I wouldn’t drink raw milk if I had to. I have always preferred milk from the store.
I remember having the opportunity, if you call it that, of plucking chickens. My grandpa would tie the chickens to a board stretched across the corner of the fence and chop of their heads. It was my job to take a freshly killed chicken and dunk it into a pot of hot water, then pull the feathers off the dead critter. I sure did enjoy that experience – not!
In the late 1960s, my folks joined forces with another family from the First Baptist Church in Tulsa and they grew a huge garden on a spot of land in East Tulsa. When I was about age 7, my dad and the other family drove to the Arkansas River to get a load of gypsum mineral to fertilize the garden.
I got out of the truck and made a few steps before I started sinking. I thought I was in quicksand as my dad reached out and snatched me to safety. He had to go back and retrieve my shoe that got stuck in the gypsum.
My parents bought a rototiller from Montgomery Wards in the late 1960s and would carry it to the farm to plow around the plants. They grew tomatoes, onions, potatoes, okra, corn, green beans, cucumbers, squash, cantaloupes, watermelons and more.
In the years that followed, my folks had a garden at my boyhood home in Tulsa. My dad enjoyed eating wilted salads with onions fresh from the garden.
After my parents moved to their farm south of Tulsa in the early 1980s, they bought a Jersey cow so they could have fresh milk. That old cow lived for years and produced many gallons of milk and lots of butter.
My dad also owned about 40 head of cattle that he ran on their 20-acres and the adjoining 40-acre farm to the west. When people would ask my dad how many cattle he owned, he always said, “Under 100” with a chuckle.
After moving to their farm, they grew a number of gardens and my mom did lots of canning. They also had chickens and enjoyed the bounty of eggs that they produced.
There are lots of great memories just like the ones I am making at the county fair with my many friends. Thank you to all those who support my work at the county fair and across the county. It is much appreciated.
Have a great week and always remember that “Good Things are Happening,” every day and always.