Two generations of an active 4-H family have one ultimate goal — camp out to enjoy the full fair experience.
Rows and rows of RVs with nearly 300 families line up just behind some bushes near the main stage at the Benton Franklin Fair & Rodeo.
Many of them belong to families who grew up in 4-H, and their kids are following in their footsteps.
Tess Webster, 35, of West Richland, sat at her makeshift home among family members earlier this week as they prepared for this year’s fitting and showing contests.
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They would be the first in which her son, Sam, 10, got to show his own pig.
Webster grew up in Moses Lake, and started her family camping sessions at the Grant County Fair in Moses Lake when she was 7 years old. The family would raise pigs themselves and participate in 4-H events.
“We always took a camper out,” she said.
Webster knew she wanted to share the same experience with her son, who has tagged along each year since he was born.
He did his first 4-H showing with one chicken in 2013. That number increases each year, and he also showed a sheep last year.
“This year he brought all four of (the chickens),” Webster said.
Sam got Sassy, his first pig, from Morgan’s Pig Farm in Benton City in February.
“Sassy was the one who came up to him,” Webster said. “They instantly had a little bond.”
Joining Webster this year was her mother, Cindy Dixon, her sister, Sicily Wilson, and Wilson’s children, Jaylyn, 7, and Ione, 5.
We all did 4-H and we all camped out (at the Grant County Fair). It’s where you make lifelong friendships.
Many other campers had barbecues set up. They all chat together, eat together and celebrate together, Wilson said.
Wilson, who now lives in Benton City, was also part of the Moses Lake camper crew with her sister and mom.
“We all did 4-H and we all camped out there,” she said. “It’s where you make lifelong friendships.”
Across from their campsite — complete with several chairs, an awning for shade and a large blanket on the ground — was another RV with the best possible utility for fairgoers: a smoothie machine.
“It’s the most fantastic thing ever,” Tess said.
And though the barbecues and fair food carts are close by, Webster said she swears by sandwiches. They’re her favorite, since she and her family may not know when the next fitting and showing will begin.
“You can eat them anytime of the day and they’re always ready,” she said.
Webster reminisced on the past as she toured the fair sidewalks and looked at all the booths before Sam’s fitting and showing for his own 4-H pig.
“I love this kind of stuff,” she said.
Arriving at the pens, Webster greeted her son. She wanted him to do the best he could and not be heartbroken, regardless of the results.
“Everything the pig does, counts,” Webster said.
Sam loved how Sassy would “roll over like a dog.”
“She’s a great pig,” he said.
Sassy won fifth place after the judging concluded.
One proud mom and family stood on the sidelines, appreciative of the work the 10-year-old did to make it this far.
What’s more, they get to continue a tradition with campers, sandwiches, smoothies, barbecues and a true home in itself.
“It’s fun to have that back with Sam now,” Webster said.