A lifetime of lessons is now three Jay seniors describe what they've learned from taking part in the Delaware County Free Fair.
The trio, Kalley Whitlock, Sellor Lane and Amaiya Bearpaw, are among those preparing for next week's fair.
All three are members of the Jay High School FFA Chapter. Lane is the president of the Jay FFA Chapter, while Whitlock is the vice president and Bearpaw is the secretary.
Life at the fair
For the three showmen, life at the fair means several things - including spending times with friends and animals alike.
"Your work shows [in the show ring]," Lane said. "The more time you spend with your animals at home, the better it pays off in the show ring."
Bearpaw agreed. She said preparing for the fair made her determined to do her best.
She said the outcome in the show ring also lets a person appreciate the time they have invested in working with their animals.
Whitlock said the fair is more than just trying to win an award or ribbon.
"You get to meet so many new people, and travel to so many places," Whitlock said. "This is the way I get to express myself. It's my whole world. I don't know what I'll do this year when it's over."
Showing animals, Bearpaw said, came naturally to her life.
"I've always grown up around animals," Bearpaw said. "Once I started diving in, it highlighted the love I have for animals, and showed me that I want to continue in that field."
For the trio, taking part in the fair has given them a mixture of leadership lessons in addition to taking care of their livestock projects.
"We're showing the younger students, starting out in their show careers, all about the leadership opportunities for all the kids in our county," Lane said.
"You have to show the little kids how hard can get you to your senior year," Bearpaw said. "Besides who doesn't love a little hometown competition. I always want to compete against people I know."
For Whitlock, the fair marks a change in the season - a time filled with local and state shows.
Because her mother works for the fair board, Whitlock sees what it takes to put on a show.
She appreciates the efforts made by volunteers to help put on an event for the county's youth.
Bearpaw said she loves the moment, when she's getting ready for her next show class.
"When you are standing in the holding pen, and you first step into the show ring, and make direct eye contact with the judge," Bearpaw said. "It's that moment when the world stops around you, and you're totally zoned and focused on the judge."
Whitlock said she loves the atmosphere at the fair.
"I love how the seasons tart to change, and the weather cools down," Whitlock said. "I love the vendors and going inside the barns and the show ring - and the intensity you feel. I just love the whole part of it.
"Oh, and you can't beat the food."
Lane said he, like Whitlock, likes the moments in the show ring.
"Once you step in the show ring and lock eyes with the judge there's just this intensity," Lane said. "Then, whether you do good or not, you shake hands with the judge before you walk out of the ring.
"You can be humble and proud either way, no matter how you do."
Advice for younger exhibitors
Lane suggests doing as much as possible during a 4-H and FFA, because the time spent in those organizations "will fly by."
Whitlock agrees. She encourages students to "make sure they enjoy" the entire process.
Whitlock said while she often serves as a role model for younger exhibitors, she finds that she continues to learn from her younger peers.
"You never stop learning," Whitlock said. "They've taught me to be a better person, because they soak up everything like little sponges. It teaches me to be a better person, whether you win or lose, because how you react reflects back on the type of person you are."
Bearpaw admits is intimidating to have younger exhibitors watching her movements.
"It makes you want to do your best, because somebody is watching you, wanting to be like you," Bearpaw said. "It motivates me to be more on my toes."
Lane said working with younger students helps him stay excited and fully engaged with the show ring process.
"We set the example now, show they will know what to do as seniors," Lane said.
Things not to miss
For Whitlock, the "must see" events at the fair include the mutton busting and the bucket calf shows.
She loves how the participants with the bucket calves love their trophies, as if it is the highlight of their life.
For Bearpaw, the fellowship with friends and neighbors is key to the fair.
"It's one place everybody comes together, to be together and spend time," Bearpaw said, adding that one should mingle with a bowl of chili in their hands.
"It's one of the few things our town has," Lane said. "Just being there on show day, seeing all the other kids and their projects."
Whitlock loves the conversations which take place among the participants.
"You can have many interesting conversations just out of the blue before and after the shows," Whitlock said.
More about the trio
Lane is the son of Steve and Annette Lane. He first joined 4-H and later FFA.
His show projects include cattle and lambs for the fall show, and cattle, lambs and swine for the spring show. He has also participated in horse judging, livestock judging and veterinary science judging in FFA.
Lane hopes to pursue a veterinarian degree at Oklahoma State University.
Bearpaw is the daughter of Amy and Rodney "Hot Rod" Revas. She has spent the last four years in FFA.
Her show projects include swine and sheep. She has participated in livestock judging and veterinary science as well.
Bearpaw hopes to become a forensic veterinarian.
Whitlock, the daughter of Amber and Jake Whitlock, began her show career as a 4-Her. She has been a member of FFA for four years.
Her show projects include swine. She has participated in livestock judging and creed speaking during her time in FFA.
Whitlock hopes to pursue a degree in agri business, and animal science.
The Delaware County Free Fair will take place from Tuesday, Sept. 4 to Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, located between Jay and Grove on Highway 10.
The events include:
• Tuesday, Sept. 4:
Check in of indoor exhibits from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Rabbit show: registration from 3:30 to 5 p.m., show at 6 p.m.
• Wednesday, Sept. 5:
Check in of baked goods, flowers, and live plants: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.; Indoor exhibit judging begins at 9:30 a.m.
• Thursday, Sept. 6:
Indoor exhibits for viewing: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Poultry show: registration from 3:30 to 5 p.m., show at 6 p.m.
• Friday, Sept. 7:
Tractor driving contest: 9 a.m.; Indoor exhibits for viewing: 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Horse show: registration at 5 p.m., show at 6:30 p.m.
• Saturday, Sept. 8:
Livestock check in: 8 to 9 a.m.; Delaware County Farm Show 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Livestock judging contest: 9:30 a.m.; Stick Horse race: 11 a.m.; Goat ribbon race: 11 a.m.; Bucket Calf Showmanship: 11:30 a.m.; Farm Family presentation: 12:30 p.m.; Livestock Show begins at 1 p.m.; Mutton Busting, following livestock show; Tractor & Truck pull: registration from 4 to 5 p.m., pull at 6 p.m., $1 entry at gate per person; exhibits released: 5 p.m.