We looked at sheep and wool for a while, then horses, then dairy cows. We got some ice cream, marveled at the butter cow, saw a two-hour-old calf stand up for the first time, and milked a cow--E and V actually milked the cow; K sort of fondled the cow but the cow-keeper gave her a cheese stick and an I milked a cow! note anyway. Then they painted on a mural for a while.
In the ag building they watched eggs hatch (paint dries faster), "planted" washers and bolts in a box of dirt for a really long time, ground wheat into flour, pedaled a tractor through a straw-bale course, and more. We finally got through the building and crossed the street to get to the Dept of Natural Resources area. Kids like it because there's a giant Smokey the Bear there who will talk to you. I like it because it has trees. Shade is a fabulous natural resource.
Smokey recognized the kids and addressed them by name. They were all shocked. V was surprised he remembered her from last year. E was a little creeped out. K fell immediately and deeply in love with Smokey the Bear. They make a very cute couple.
They did some laundry on a washboard and hung it on a clothesline. The big girls (you had to be 42 inches tall) signed up to paddle a kayak. I thought K handled the disappointment pretty well; however, she asked a couple of times why she couldn't participate and then weepy V said she didn't want to go if K was going to be unhappy. She got over that (A corn dog helped. Tears are reliable indicators of hunger or exhaustion--empathy, not so much.) and they spent a good 10 minutes kayaking in a pool. We walked through an aviary, saw a bunch of animals, and then the kids (no one over 14 was allowed) went fishing.
They have space for about thirty kids at a time at the fishing pond. No one in the group in front of us caught a thing, but after a few tedious minutes E caught a catfish. She wanted to take him home and fry him up. They wrapped him in paper and put in in a fridge for us, but that meant we didn't have much time to stay at the fair since they were shutting down in less than an hour. Perfect! I had told the kids they could ride a ride before we left, so we ventured out the the midway and found something everyone was tall enough to do. We retrieved the fish and rode the shuttle (also a fun ride, and free!) back to our car. The fish guy had told me to filet the fish today so I amended my plan to stop at a grocery store on the trip home. Instead, we went to a convenience store for toothbrushes and raced home to cut open the fish.
Except when we unwrapped him on the kitchen counter, he was still but gasping. Alive! No one wanted to see me plunge a knife into the back of our catfish friend, least of all me. We took a brisk walk to the pond and let him go. He'll probably be somebody's dinner soon, but it was a relief to see him wriggle down out of sight.