The Greatest Gift of the NC State Fair: The Memories

In less than a month, youth from across the state will be able to do what they always have, albeit a bit different.

In less than a month, livestock trailers will pull in to the NC State Fairgrounds to compete in another year of shows. Goats, cattle, pigs, sheep and turkeys will all make an appearance with some very eager youth. Masks will be plentiful and distance will abound, but the show will go on, thanks to the dedication and hard work of many. Because of their efforts, youth from across the state will be able to make memories yet again.

Some may say that showing livestock is about the competition, and it is. Others will say that the showing is about building character and life skills, and it is. Still others will say that it is about family time and doing what you love, and they’d be correct too. Showing livestock is all of these things. It is also about making memories.

Recently, the topic of the State Fair came up with my husband and I who both showed for more than a decade at the Fair. We began talking about what the NC State Fair meant to us and memories that were extra special.

For us the NC State Fair was a place where we could share a passion. It was where we both competed against each other and cheered for each other. State Fair means family time, whether that was eating ham biscuits and chocolate chip cookies in the barn with my family or eating around a crockpot with his. When we think about the NC State Fair, we think about people. Some who have impacted our lives greatly and even came to our wedding. State Fair brings to mind other people who are no longer with us, but oh, how we treasure the memories of them at the fair.

The NC State Fair is indeed about lessons, family, competition and memories, and if we really think about it, the Fair is a place of change and different experiences. Take the penning in the Kelley Building for example. More than a decade ago, before there were shiny gray pens in the Kelley Building, there was the green panels—the ones like they have in the tents. My husband recalls wrestling mightily with those green panels during hog shows and was elated when the pens changed to the upgraded gray pens that are in there now. I on the other hand, was only showing goats at the time, and the change to penning meant the smaller goats were forever trying to wriggle through the slats of the gray panels and cause problems. Change and different experiences.

Yet again, the NC State Fair is experiencing another change which will surely bring differing experiences for all. 2020 will be very different. There will be masks and social distancing. There won’t be a sale like normal, but do you know what there will be? There will be memories made.

And one day, when everyone who shows at the 2020 NC State Fair has aged out, they too will sit on a couch and reminisce about what it meant to them. They will talk about the change, but also about the people and traditions. I also can’t help but be convinced that they will be thankful for the memories.

As my husband and I finished reminiscing, I asked him, “Do you want this, the Fair and the livestock shows for our future kids?” He replied simply, “Absolutely.”

I am eternally grateful, as I know countless of others are too, for all that showing livestock at the NC State Fair has given me. I am especially grateful for the memories that are in the banners on my wall, the photos on my desk, and the ones in my heart.  

Thank you to all those who work so hard to continue to make memories happen at the NC State Fair.

About Marisa Linton See

Marisa grew up showing and raising livestock in NC. She has shown animals at the N.C. State Fair for 15 years and is a past youth livestock scholarship recipient. She is an N.C. State University graduate, agricultural photographer and blogger.

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