I'm really too competitive for my own good. It gets me into trouble, and you'd think I've learned from my lessons. You would think.
So, spurred by my competitive streak, I made a little bet with Esther, our food editor. I bet her that Washington County cows are bigger and better than Jefferson County cows.
You see, Esther covers the Jefferson County Fair in Ohio, and I cover the Washington County Agricultural Fair in Pennsylvania. Both fairs occur simultaneously, and that's a sad thing, because we really want to accompany one another on visits to each other's fairs.
Esther, as I've said before, is the reigning queen of county fairs for her vast and deep knowledge of all things agricultural and her habit of purchasing small animals and 4-H projects.
My agricultural knowledge could safely fit on the back of a matchbook, and I'm not even sure how those auctions work. I have attended several, but I'm not sure where to get a paddle or what I would do with a chicken or whatever, were I successful in bidding for one. Actually, I think the Long Suffering Husband would be nonplussed if I brought a live chicken home. Is it safe to put one in the back seat of my car?
However, I'm firmly convinced of the agricultural superiority of Washington County farmers, so I proposed that we bet on which fair would produce the largest grand champion market steer, with the loser baking a pie for newsroom consumption. Have I mentioned that Esther is the food editor? Or that she's frequently requested as a judge in cooking contests? Or that her pies are out of this world?
Of course, being that I fail at fairs, there was some confusion.
"OK, so whoever's fair produces the fattest cow wins, right?"
"Oh, no," said Esther. "You don't want the cow to be fat, you want it to be lean."
I imagined a cow walking off the pounds on a giant, cow-sized treadmill or a 4-H'er putting a collar and leash on and taking their project animal for a brisk stroll.
"Wait, the champion is the heaviest one, right?"
"No, it's the best example of the animal." Poor Esther; she's been trying to properly instruct me on agriculture for years. It's a testament to her patience that she hasn't given up on me yet.
"Maybe we should just go with the heaviest one. Is there a ribbon for that?"
"Some fairs do, but not all of them do. Every fair has a grand champion, so we'll do that."
"Now, what kind of cow?" I knew there was a difference because I still have nightmares over her explanation between them.
"We'll base it on steers."
"How big was Jefferson's last year? Washington's was over a thousand pounds. That's a lot of cow."
Of course, Esther pointed out most cows ranged between 1,000 and 1,500 pounds, and she had, right at hand, the exact weight of the 2011 Jefferson grand champion. It was 1,300 and some change. After much searching, I found that the 2011 Washington champion was 1,200 and change.
I have to tell you, Washington farmers, I'm a little nervous. It's less than a hundred pounds, but I know you guys can win this. I mean, I get the pie, but y'all get the bragging rights. So, for the next couple of days - I don't know what you feed your cows, but - give them the cow equivalent of chocolate and ice cream. Just fatten them up. We can't let the Jefferson County farmers win this. I believe in you.
Also, there's a pie in it for me.
(Wallace-Minger, The Weirton Daily Times community editor, is a Weirton resident and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)