4-Hers bring their best to the Brooklyn Fair
By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Brooklyn - posted Mon., Aug. 26, 2013
The Guay family sat in the shade of an Easy-Up within a stone's throw of the horse show ring at the Brooklyn Fair on Aug. 25. Sixteen-year-old Haylee and 14-year-old Taylor waited for the chance to pull a single log through an obstacle course with their Belgian horses. Until the ring was set up and the judges on hand and the trophies in place, they had nothing to do but talk. They had nowhere to go. So they waited in the shade in the middle of a parking area filled with horse trailers and pickup trucks.
There were amusement rides on the other side of the ring, but the girls weren't interested. Food booths lined Pakulis and Eastford avenues and Sterling Hill, the little avenues inside the fair grounds that separate vendors and provide corridors for the thousands who visited over the weekend.
The Guays brought their own food. Food and coolers and a portable grill sat on two folding tables. For them, the Brooklyn Fair is all about their animals and the working relationships they have with them. It's about family, and the friends they've made who count as much.
“It's definitely a certain culture,” said mom, Michelle. “More than anything it's a great group of people. I wouldn't have chosen to have it any other way for my kids.”
Walking through the cattle barns or by the swine and sheep sheds, or where the huge teams of oxen are kept is a reminder that the culture Guay talks about is alive and well. Even in the populated northeastern U.S., where most people live far from barns and their animals, the fair is a reminder of the life required for those with farm animals. “It's 365 days a year,” Guay said. “We've all been sick, but we have to get to the barn.”
For Haylee, that means providing up to 75 gallons of water a day for her 1,700-pound Belgian draft horse, Bill. It means providing grain in the mornings and enough hay for him to graze on during the day. It means watching the big beast for signs of illness or discomfort. It means mucking stalls. It requires daily attention to his needs, and the responsibility to provide for them.
She and her sister talk of their horses as if they are members of the family – which they are. Each has a different personality. Taylor's horse, Morgan, is a stout, strong, blond Belgian with an attitude. Bill is a gentle giant. It's the sort of familiarity that many 4-H members have with their animals, whether they're sheep or goats, horses or cattle. “I like the work,” Haylee said. “I like connecting with the animals.”
It's a comfort to see the calm and quiet of youngsters and young adults as they watch over their animals. The sense of pride they have when their good work is recognized is one of the enduring gifts of the Brooklyn Fair.