NEW VIENNA — Next week, a torch will be passed at the conclusion of the Clinton County Fair.
Eighteen-year-old Andrew Davis will compete in his final county fair, an event that marks 50 years of the Flint family’s participation in the Clinton County Fair. Meanwhile, Andrew Davis’ sister and cousins will continue to compete in fairs for years to come and more family members will be of competing age soon.
The family tradition truly began more than 50 years ago when Bill Flint exhibited his black angus in county fairs starting in 1944.
Terri Barton, Bill Flint’s eldest daughter, was first to revive her father’s activities in the fair in 1966. Showing steer just as Bill did, she began the 50 year legacy that the family now holds today.
Her siblings – Chuck Flint, Cindy Anderson and Alison Davis – also competed, as did all of their children, every year for the last 50 years.
“It’s not something that we set out to do,” Terri Barton told the News Journal. “It just happened. It really doesn’t seem that long ago that we started.”
The Flint family of New Vienna has not only competed for half a century, but they’ve shown every animal that can be entered into the fair and have won awards for every kind of animal but one – sheep – which Andrew Davis will show this year.
Andrew Davis, in his tenth and final year, will also show beef, hogs and goats, and Taylor Barton will show goats. Between them and Andrew Davis’ sister, Lauren Davis, they will show twenty-five animals in this year’s fair.
All of Bill Flint’s daughters recall different memories from the last 50 years of fairs – memories of fun, love and manure.
“There’s just something about being at the fair, and the sawdust smell, the smell of the cattle, it was fun,” said Terri Barton. “We used to sit on the show box and play a card game called Tonk, and we listened to an old … song, Honky Tonk Woman, blasting through the barns. Those were just great times growing up.”
“And that’s where my husband asked me for my first date was at the fair on the show box,” said Cindy Anderson.
“The times probably we really weren’t crazy about it was when we were cleaning out the barns,” or when a steer drags you through mud and manure in front of everyone, said Alison Davis.
“There’s just nothing like it – a lot of memories,” said Cindy Anderson, Alex Anderson’s mother. “It’s just a good community connection.”
The new generation shares those memories and hopes to continue the tradition for many more years to come.
The youngest current exhibitor, nine-year-old Taylor Barton, has been going to the fair since she was a baby and is excited about showing her three goats at this year’s fair. She said she enjoys showing the different kinds of goats, seeing how they do and, of course, “you get to get ribbons.”
Trisha Hughes, Terri Barton’s daughter, said 4-H and showing at the county fair not only creates memories but requires dedication and hard work as a family both in and outside of the ring.
The oldest current exhibitor, Andrew Davis, will attend Ohio State University and plans to major in agriculture business and minor in livestock production management. He hopes to turn his 4-H experience and family tradition into a career by becoming a livestock feed representative and tying that profession back to the lessons Bill “Pap” Flint, taught him.
“He said, ‘Feed is the most important thing you do to your animal,’” Andrew Davis said. “Take the good, make it better, make it best.”
Everyone in the Flint family points to lessons learned, values held and friends met as a result of 4-H and showing at county fairs.
“It’s about the people, the experiences, the life-long skills, the memories,” said Alison Davis. “It’s about being a role model, giving back and making the best better.”
“It really is all about the journey and life lessons we learned as a result of being in 4-H, working with livestock projects,” said Terri Barton. “Those experiences along the way have made us who we are today. We wouldn’t trade those family times for anything and we can’t wait to see what the future holds for the newest members of this 4-H family.”
They also had to learn how to breed and raise animals, including how to stay ahead of changing norms about how an animal should look or how much hair it should have.
“You don’t want to get behind the curve in the industry,” said Andrew Davis. “You want to try to catch up to the curve and stay ahead of the curve; try to get to where the industry is going before everybody else gets there.”
“Our farm’s made drastic changes just in the four years that we’ve been operating,” said Alex Anderson.
Alex Anderson said 4-H clubs have come and gone in the years and are “way more diversified than they were.”
“Now, they’re a little more comingled and easier to find,” Alex Anderson said, adding that club members compete in artwork, creative writing, shooting and public speaking as well as in livestock matters.
But at the end of each year, showing at fairs remains a Flint family tradition. Everyone goes to the fair, cheers on competing family members, shares in the victories and losses and starts to think of what they’ll do next year.
While 2016 will be Andrew’s last year competing in the Clinton County Fair, his sister still has another couple of fairs to go. He also has three cousins who will carry on the tradition and other family members who aren’t old enough yet to compete.
Alex Anderson said he can see the torch being passed on further and further for another 25 or even 50 years.
“It’s in our blood,” said Andrew Davis.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.