Enter your best lamb.

enter your best lamb

I was really busy last week, a state which continues through now, with a projected end of Wednesday at 11 p.m. All of the detritus of the semester has built up and is clogging the drains: grading, emails, getting necessary documents sent in the right formats to the proper place. I fear I am not up to it: yesterday, I spent FOUR HOURS writing a 500-word proposal for a conference, based on work I’ve already done. This should not have taken this long. Today, I am revising a good, well-argued paper I wrote a few years ago, turning it into a half-assed conference paper — my fingers are magic that way. Anyway, in the interest of continually providing content, I offer you the above photo.

This is a flyer that I acquired when I worked at the Denver Post, a decade ago. One of my jobs there was to edit the calendar section that appeared on Fridays, in the “weekend” section — this involved opening a lot of mail and coming up with interesting and new things to say about the indistinguishable parade of craft shows, community theater productions, seminars on wealth creation, and other items of interest going on the Denver metropolitan area each week. The worst, though, were county fairs — they’re all essentially the same. Some might have America performing for the crowds; others dig up the zombie remains of the Oak Ridge Boys to bring in the folks. But, other than that, all county fairs consist of the familiar tropes of mutton bustin’, cattle ropin’, giant vegetables, photography contests, funnel cakes and edible things on sticks. So making each and every county fair on the Front Range sound different! and exciting! took all of my powers of describing things in less than 100 words. But then, I got this flyer in the mail — how could you not be excited about a Lamb Carcass Contest?

Now, with the help of the internet, I know a bit more about such competitions. From the University of Nebraska:

Lamb carcass contests provide youth and their families with information that can enhance breeding programs and the overall educational experience of a 4-H sheep project. Carcass contests help create an awareness of current lamb carcass qualities that are considered desirable by the lamb industry and by consumers. Carcass contests identify those carcasses that excel in the qualities of meat yield and meat quality. Ideally, market animals that excel in live animal characteristics also will excel in carcass characteristics. However, carcass contests seldom account for live animal characteristics such as rate of gain or structural soundness. Thus, animals that excel in carcass contests may or may not be the most desirable animals overall. Selection, breeding, nutrition and management practices can affect both carcass and live animal characteristics. The practices that result in superior live animals and that produce superior carcasses can only be identified when carcass information is available and can be easily interpreted.

Congratulations, dead animal! You have excelled in the areas of meat yield and meat quality!

At the time, though, I had many questions, some of which still persist. If the entry deadline is in July, but the fair isn’t until August, what do they do with the carcasses? Are the lambs entered alive and then magically rendered dead for the competition? What sort of trophy do you get for this — is it one of those really tall ones that cheerleaders win? Why are the clip-art sheep smiling? Don’t they know what’s about to happen? Wouldn’t the Boulder County Fair be more likely to feature contests such as Outstanding Goat Cheese or Best Vegan Pie Crust?

My most persistent question, though, stems from the flyer’s design: who decided to combine Dom Casual and Chicago, two of the ugliest typefaces ever kerned and leaded, into one uglier flyer?

Anyway, I found this flyer in my personal archives not too long ago, and decided to put it on my office door. No one really notices it, unfortunately, or they’re too horrified to say anything.

Posting is still strong at the other site. Its format fits in well with my crow-like tendencies to collect shiny things, as well as my 30-second attention span. It’s a lot easier than real blogging, let me tell you.

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