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BY SARAH NIGBOR The chaos of Fair Week

This coming week is one I both adore and dread: Pierce County Fair week. I’m telling myself if I can survive it this year in one piece (since I’m still recovering from surgery and it’s taking longer than I want), I will treat myself to a glorious weekend away where silence will reign, books will be read, hikes will be made, and couee will be drank. I love Fair Week because it’s been part of my life since I can remember. Once a young 4Her myself, I still get excited to see the exhibits and ribbons. I revel in the sound of the Midway, the scent of deep-fried goodness permeating the air, the taste of a St. Francis cheeseburger, the trips through the Round Barn to sign up for prize drawings and visiting with friends I haven’t seen in a while. I love the sound of demo cars smashing into each other and the bright lights of the grandstand.

But what I dread is helping my kids round up their fair projects and carting them to the fairgrounds. I have two kids in 4H this year, and they’ve graduated from Explorers to the Real Deal. This means a list of entries that is pages long. I encourage it and I love it, I do. But I don’t love prodding and nagging them to get everything done. Because of course even though they’ve had the entire summer (heck, year) to do things, of course it’s not all done. Just today the 11-year-old suddenly had a life-threatening belly ache when he was supposed to be working on his archery poster. It magically dissipated when Skittles were mentioned by a sibling. See how that works?

Luckily, my daughter is meticulous and a wee bit maniacal when it comes to being prepared, so I’m not too worried there. It’s me I worry about, because her expectation is that I will remember every single thing that she needs to complete her projects, from tagboard to glue to fabric to photo pages. And if I don’t measure up, I will be in big trouble. I already have my battle plan started (on paper) and will follow it to a T. Every single second of the next two weeks is mapped out in my planner, along with lists of things we need to accomplish each day and materials we need to secure. I feel like a five-star general heading into battle.

This is all happening of course while I work a full-time job and have two other kids who need to make it to activities. My husband will no longer be able to help, because this week he starts the insanity of high school football coaching, meaning he is not home much now until the season is done. When my doctor told me to take it easy at my last follow-up appointment, I laughed. But it will all be worth it once Fair Week rolls around. We will have everything we need! We will not forget anything! We will be organized! We will not procrastinate! And the kids will remember this week and other Fair Weeks for the rest of their lives, just like I do.

To my mother: Thank you for getting me through Fair Weeks in my 4H days. You always seemed like you loved every minute of the chaos. Thank you.

August 2, 2022