20 August, 2009

The 4H Fair, and Cheeseburger Cake

My wife Maryanne and I went to the local 4H Fair last Saturday; it's the smallest of the regional agricultural fairs, but one that's important to us because the exhibitors are all kids from local farms showing off their budding skillz, and we want the kids to know that we appreciate their contribution to sustainable local farming.

We went through the livestock and poultry exhibits, playing with the chickens, petting the goats, and visiting with young dairy farmers and their prize cattle. My amazing Animal-Fu™ was at 100% power - the goats were being extra-friendly, most of the chickens came up to the edge of their cages to have their heads scratched, and even the cows wanted to nuzzle. Don't accuse me of being Dr. Doolittle, I can't understand a word they're saying, but I genuinely like beasts and they seem to like me most of the time, too.

The poultry exhibit was bigger this year than it's been for a few years. I love chickens, and we had a great time visiting the hens. Kids from a couple of local dairy farms were there with their cows, and there were a lot of goats. Mostly nannies, actually, because this area is seeing rising demand for goat's milk and goat's milk cheeses. We chatted with some of the young goatherds and gave the goats scritchies and belly rubs. The goats behave a lot like friendly dogs. Well, friendly dogs with hooves and big wobbly lactating udders who like to grab the edge of your sleeve and give it a nibble if you don't pay enough attention to them. I wonder if I'd be able to get away with keeping a goat on my half-acre suburban property?

When we were done with the animals, we checked out the garden produce and the "household arts" exhibits. The pickles and preserves were delicious-looking as usual and therfe was quite a selection of jams, jellies, pickles, and canned tomatoes. Maryanne and I put up a lot of stuff every year as local produce shows up in the garden and at farm stands, so we're always inrterested in what the kids choose to can and enter in the competition.

This year, the baking competition was particularly interesting. In addition to the usual sheet cakes and layer cakes, there was a great-looking Cheeseburger Cake - a cleverly-decorated layer cake with fondant "fixin's" presented on a sheet of McDonalds burger-wrapping paper. Well done, and it won a Best In Show ribbon.

If you enjoy local agricultural fairs, keep an eye open for your local 4H events. They draw significantly smaller crowds than the big "State Fairs" so they're easy to get around in, and it's easy to pass the time of day chatting with the young farmers and their parents. And you'll be showing the kids you care about their interests, local agriculture, and the future of farming in your region.


4-H website - Includes an interactive link to the 4-H organization for your region (it's not magic, a script on the page can tell your general location from your IP address.)

If you didn't understand that part in parentheses above, and want to know more about how a website knows where you're surfing from, click here.

4-H in Connecticut - Part of the UConn agricultural extension office.



Thistlemoon said...

Sounds like a great day! I love these types of fairs too - a day spent with animals is really so much fun!

Michael said...

Ah, poop, I thought it would be a cake made out of ground beef, with a cheese frosting.

Dave said...

...And bacon sprinkles. That would indeed have been most awesome.