You know that look you get from people when you’re taking people on a new experience and they’re not really sure about you or your idea. Last year we invited a dozen girls to our daughter’s birthday party and on Friday afternoon when my wife was picking our daughter up from school the other mothers were like “Sooooo, yeah. I guess we’ll see ya on Sunday.” You know, what I mean. That polite comment with a touch of sarcasm when they think you’re crazy.
Hold that image in your mind for a bit while I back up and explain how we got to this point. My wife and I were stuck for ideas for the birthday party. We asked our daughter what she wanted to do and she quickly blurted out she wanted to have her party at the sale barn. We tried to explain to her that the sale barn isn’t really a place to have birthday parties. She was terribly disappointed.
Then next day ideas started popping in my head how we could actually pull this off. I called my wife and she had some ideas of her own. We became excited about it and she told me to call the barn and see if we could make it happen.
I called the manager and asked him if we could have the party there. I had to wait for him to quit laughing then clear his throat, before he finally asked me what I had in mind. He instantly got on board with it.
We had the party in the café. We moved some tables out of the way to make room for games, and put others together to eat on. We did a farm theme of course, but with pink.
For the games we had a ring toss, where you had to get a ring on a steer’s horn. We had a bowling game set up. And another game was to toss a plastic snake into a cowboy boot.
We had some fake money that the girls could “earn” for playing the games. It didn’t matter how well they did at the game, just that they participated. Some girls didn’t participate much, so they didn’t get much money. Others participated over and over and over. So, naturally they earned quite a little money.
Here’s the good part. We had an auction! The manager is also the auctioneer. He, turned on the lights and the microphone for our auction. He had the girls stand in the sale ring for the auction. We had take home bags for the girls with different trinkets in them that they were bidding on. Each bag had something different in it.
The auctioneer had to explain to the girls how the auction was going to work. After the first two items sold they caught on. The girls loved it! The bidding was fast and furious! It was so furious that some of the girls kept bidding after they spent their money. The girl that had the most money was too shy to bid so another girl bid for her. Kinda like an order buyer!
I gotta say this. The auctioneer that did this for us is really good at working the crowd. He did an outstanding job playing up to the girls, and that really helped pull all this together for us.
After our auction we went back to the café for cake and ice cream.
The girls got done eating and we still had some time before their parents came to pick them up. This barn sells cattle on Mondays, and our party was on Sunday, so they were busy checking in cattle for the next day’s sale. The sale the week before got canceled due to ice so they were getting more cattle than normal. ( and they still found time to do our auction for us) With a little extra time on our hands the girls wanted to go out to the yard and see the cattle.
Some of these kids had never seen a cow up close before. I took them out down the main alley where I knew it would be clean and we’d be out of the way.
Some of the girls were amazed how big the cows were. They had so many questions. I was asked why they were so loud, some of the calves were not weaned. I was asked about the things in their ears, tags. Why do they keep jumping on that one cows back, how do you explain heat to a 6 year old? Why do they have stickers on their backs? And my favorite, do cows eat cake?
Now I had you hold that image of the other moms looking at us like we’re silly. The party got over around 4 in the afternoon. About 7 or 8 that evening my wife was getting texts from the other parents telling us how much fun their kid had and that the kids would not quit talking about it! One of the girl’s dad works for the State Patrol and he was on duty that day. She tried hard to stay up late enough to tell him about it when he got home.
The next day the sale barn manager even mentioned the birthday party and wished our daughter a happy birthday when he was on the radio announcing the consignment listing. That made her day!
Now we thought we pulled off a pretty great party. But how good was it really? 11 months later one of the girls asked our daughter what she was going to do for her next party, because “it’s going to be hard to top your last one”. Dang! How cool is that
I was surprised she brought it up that much later. That also got me thinking. We own the cattle and the stockyards. If we want to do some advocating for the cattle biz we may be wasting a golden opportunity to do so. With a little imagination and some time just think of the impact we could have reaching out to the general public and children.