Yesterday I volunteered at the Great State Fair of Oklahoma, helping to man the beekeepers’ table as part of Ag-Tropolis. I am part of a wonderful statewide community of beekeepers, and part of the reason we are at the fair every year is to educate the public and hopefully influence more people to consider raising their own honeymakers. Just like before, I had the best time. The hours flew past and I made tons of happy memories.
To start the day, I arrived at the fairgrounds an hour early and thoroughly enjoyed walking around the clean paved streets, smelling the yummy foods cooking (but not the trash that would accumulate later in the day), gazing at the colorful signs and banners. I had so much fun recalling childhood memories of the Space Needle and Cottonwood Trading Post and so many other wonderful things. Remember when the monorail was still open?
And like so many public spaces in Oklahoma City, the fairgrounds boasts really nice gardens. Simple, native, well kept, and lush. They might be easy to overlook if your garden philosophy is that everything has to be roses, shapely boxwood, and fancy details. But if your soul sings with wild color and free-form shrubs, then a bright, cool morning with time to stroll would be well spent at the state fairgrounds.
Once inside the expo building where Ag-Tropolis was located, I felt totally at home for more modern reasons. The sights, smells, and sounds of a barnyard were all around me, just like here at the farm. They had amassed chickens, goats, donkeys, and yes… even llamas. Since I’d seen horses and bison outside, the only Lazy W animal missing was a macaw.
It is no secret how interrelated gardening is with beekeeping. The two arts do more than overlap; they compliment each other beautifully. Necessarily, even. So how perfect that the beekeeping booth was adjacent to the Master Gardeners’ booth. I introduced myself to the gardeners there as a current student and enjoyed all the congratulations and encouragements you would expect from passionate, happy birds of a feather.
As always, a day at the beekeepers’ booth afforded me the chance to meet so many interesting people! Of course there are the fellow apiarists. So smart, so friendly, and so open to discussing methods, histories, gardens, you name it. I love listening to how other beekeepers answer questions, too. Early Wednesday morning a gentleman asked Rick (pictured below in yellow) about getting stung, does it ever happen? Rick’s answer was priceless, “Yes. Plumbers get wet and beekeepers get stung.” Ha!! I laughed so hard. My sudden, ungraceful laughter echoed in the huge concrete room and then a donkey brayed back at me and I was embarrassed and pretended to be reading something important but my magazine was upside down.
This kind of thing happens to me a lot.
As for my contribution to the cause, even with Papa Joe’s journals to read, my apiarist knowledge base is elementary at best. But I do possess a deep well of appreciation for the craft. So I spent the day inviting people to share their stories of having grown up with bees, of having wild bees on their property now , of wanting to raise bees for their gardens, and much more. I love that so much! Talking to bee-inclined adults (especially my elders) is half of the thrill for me. The other half of my fun is talking to the kids who run up to see the cool gadgets like bellow smokers and hive tools and veils. They often start off proclaiming a hatred for bees, a fear of bees, or just the opinion that bugs in general are icky. (I think that last part is because we are the very next booth after the tables and Plexiglas boxes full of scorpions, tarantulas, etcetera.)
But with one or two encouraging sentences, young people can be persuaded to reconsider the gentle honeybee. And if you are a little girl and you want to try on my pink bee suit… then your future is sealed. You are going to want to become a beekeeper now.
Or maybe an astronaut.
Or a Power Ranger.
We met the sweetest young couple during an extractor demonstration. They were just married and spending their honeymoon weeks on a cross-country road trip. They seemed genuinely interested in starting their own apiary, and the Mrs. kind of joked that it is on their five-year plan.
Can I just take a moment to say how much I love it when young couples make five-year plans? I’m not teasing you exactly, although it does blush of naiveté; I mostly mean to celebrate your ambition and positive outlook. May the Universe work on your behalf, in the most wonderful ways.
What a packed, informative, motivating, and happy day at the fair! I stayed a bit longer than I had planned and would have stayed even longer still if we didn’t have a lovely night at the farm to enjoy. Chores, dinner, loved ones, and quiet time with Handsome all waited for me.
Have you been to the Oklahoma State Fair yet this year? What is your favorite building to visit? What is your craziest food indulgence? Did any vendors (like me) tempt you into a new hobby?
A man only learns in two ways.
One by reading and the other
by association with smarter people.