Confessions of a Show Mom

I’ve attended the Iowa State Fair for about 30 years, and I’m “amazing amused” to discover new sites on the grounds and new foods to try. (Side bar: The Smoked Brisket and Bacon Mac n’ Cheese gets my vote in the 2014 New Foods Contest although I found the Bauders Brownie Blitz to be a delectable, especially with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.)

Goat1I’m also still learning life lessons. It may sound cliché that youth gain valuable skills as members of 4-H or the FFA, but now that I’m a 4-H mom, I realize that I’m gaining a whole new set of life skills! I was reminded of this fact yesterday when I found myself pacing as our daughter showed her meat goats.

It was Ellie’s first year in the big ring and a ring that size – filled with the top stock from across the state – can be intimidating. I need to appreciate the fact that it took a great deal of courage for my self-conscious girl to come to the state fair when she didn’t know another 4-H member in her project area. I also need to remember that many families in the ring have a show stock legacy, and competing is something they enjoy doing as a family.

Yesterday I found myself wanting my daughter to desire to create a legacy. I wasn’t content with having her just show up… I wanted her to show! I wanted her to show her goats with heart – the way I used to show my lambs at the state fair.

And I wanted her to desire to win a purple ribbon. That means she would need to really work with her goats, training them to lead with a collar instead of a halter and helping them develop their natural potential as performance stock. It’s like the difference between an athlete playing sports at the high school level verses the college level or even training for the Olympics. Raising show stock requires a different diet and an actual training regime.

Fact is, my daughter loves her goats… as pets. She has spent hours in their pen, playing with them and talking to them. Through her 4-H Goat Project, she’s learned to be responsible and do her chores daily. She understands the importance of good health and nutrition. She knows these wethers’ purpose in life is to become meat for someone’s table. We’ve had discussions that our job is to take the best possible care of them so they make high quality meat, but this doesn’t make the reality of the situation any better.

Now that the show is over, we must say goodbye to our beloved Immanuel and Cupid. They have the sweetest personalities, and we’ve had so many fun hours together. (I find myself holding back tears even as I write about them.) I believe it’s important for kids to know how food is grown, but I’ll confess that we aren’t going to put these goats in our freezer.

Photo Courtesy of the Iowa Food & Family Project

Photo Courtesy of the Iowa Food & Family Project

Next year we’ll probably just show does, or females, at our county fair. Then we’ll bring them home and add them to our tribe, or group of goats. Showing breeding goats at the county fair is a better fit for my daughter’s interests. Her real passion is showing horses. I’m going to accept that but… I still have hopes of her someday winning a purple ribbon at the Iowa State Fair with her new horse! After all, I’m a show mom. 🙂

In celebration of the Iowa State Fair, today I’m sharing another recipe from the Let’s Cook cookbook that features Iowa Girl Eats blogger Kristen Porter. You can get your own autographed copy tomorrow, Aug. 16, between 10 am and noon at the Iowa Food and Family Project exhibit, located inside the south atrium of the Varied Industries Building.

Cheesy Corn Casserole



  • 1 can (15 oz.) whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 can (15 oz.) creamed corn
  • 1/3 cup butter (melted)
  • 1 cup mild shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 cup macaroni noodles, uncooked
  • 2 Tbsp. grated onion



  1. Preheat oven to 350•
  2. In a medium bowl, add whole kernel corn and creamed corn.
  3. Slowly stir in the melted butter, cheddar cheese, grated onion and uncooked macaroni noodles.
  4. Spread into a greased baking dish.
  5. Bake in oven for 1 hour.


Recipe from the "Let's Cook" cookbook from the Iowa Food & Family Project as well as

Nutrition | Per Serving: 330 Calories, 17g Fat, 47mg Cholesterol, 469mg Sodium, 38g Carbohydrate, 3g Fiber, 10g Protein