BEEF Daily

You Call The State Fair A Vacation?


The state fair is my family’s annual vacation. We’re headed there today. Hope to see you there!

My family doesn’t vacation in Mexico or some other exotic destination, and we couldn’t even consider a 10-day cruise. It’s not because we wouldn’t want to, but frankly, we are married to the ranch and our beloved cattle. That’s why most of our family vacations involve bringing those cattle, or at least a few of them, along with us.

The South Dakota State Fair, which starts today, is our “big” vacation of the year, and our family is bringing seven head of cattle and two hogs. In addition to all the hoopla that comes with showing once or twice each day for the next five days, my little sister Kaley has school, 4-H speeches and livestock judging contests to compete in.

Of course, before we could leave, there were chores to be done at home. For instance, we’re finishing up the baling on our third cutting of alfalfa. And we had campers, trailers, kids and livestock to get ready. And to top it all off, this week is going to be the hottest week of the whole summer.


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In between the shows and contests, which my mom arranges in a color-coded calendar to keep us all on track during the fair, we try to squeeze in visits with fellow cattlemen, bull buyers and friends. These are folks we only see once each year at the fair.

The dust, the heat, late nights and early mornings, and sleeping together in a tight camper can lead to short tempers and the need to guzzle lots of caffeine. And yes, we call this a vacation and look forward to it with gusto each and every year.

Getting back from said vacation means a monumental pile of laundry, catching up on work back home, cleaning out the camper, hauling the market pigs and steers to town, and getting ready for weaning and harvest. Hopefully, along the way we can squeeze in a few naps to catch up on lost sleep.

Despite all the craziness, we consider fair week the best time of the year. It’s our chance to showcase a year of hard work, socialize with like-minded people and make a lot of memories along the way. It’s our family vacation, and we like it that way. So throw an umbrella in your cup and picture the ocean because the wash rack and a bag chair are as cool and relaxing as it’s going to get. 

Are you headed to a state fair this week or over the Labor Day weekend? If so, which one? If you’re in South Dakota, swing by the Open Class Beef barn and say hello. I would love to hear suggestions for how to make this blog better or ideas for future posts.


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Discuss this Blog Entry 5

on Aug 28, 2013

Amanda sorry for the HEAT!!!!! Could be like here in Texas 100-103 all the way until Labor Day! I stayed back at the ranch while my folks attended a wedding in South Dakota. We too raise cattle so both can't leave at the same time. Dad said it was amazing how GREEN everything was up there and COOLER. Enjoy your fair, keep up the good work you do here Mon-Fri, and have fun with the family. That's what its all about. Gary

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 28, 2013

So timely! We too are headed to our county fair and can't imagine being anywhere else. We too could probably take several vacations to exotic places, but for us fairs our family get away. Good luck!

Anonymous (not verified)
on Aug 28, 2013

We just finished up a week at our county fair. No better way to spend a vacation. Our two oldest kids each had a market lamb. The grandparents came all the way from Texas to northwest PA for the week.

Val (not verified)
on Aug 28, 2013

My family always joked around about "living" at the fair and I grew up with our county fair and state fair just a couple weeks apart from each other and when I was in high school the week inbetween I'd go on a FFA camping trip, so my bag, clothes, sleeping bag, etc. all smelled like the fair or the barn. We laughed about it but it was some of my favorite memories from my youth. Have fun at the South Dakota State Fair! My family had a blast a couple weeks ago at the Iowa State Fair!

on Aug 28, 2013

Went on 5 vacations this year. Best vacations ever. 3 county fairs and 2 state fairs. Wish I could do it year round, but got to work sometime...LOL

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What's BEEF Daily?

BEEF Daily Blog is produced by rancher Amanda Radke, one of the U.S. beef industry’s top social media “agvocates.”


Amanda Radke

Amanda Radke is a fifth generation rancher from Mitchell, S.D., who has dedicated her career to serving as a voice for the nation’s beef producers. A 2009 graduate of South Dakota State...

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