LAUREN BRANT: Finishing chores with a smile

Brad Staman/Gering Courier by a rope during Tuesday’s tug-of-war competition at the Scotts Bluff County Fair. Brant laughs as the orange marker flies over her head.

The time had finally arrived. The Gering Courier/Star-Herald Newsies team walked through the arena Tuesday night looking through the obstacles for the chore time relay. We were hoping several teams would run the course ahead of us, so we could figure out the best way to navigate each chore. However, we were drawn to compete in the third round against the Mitchell/Morrill FFA.

As I took photos of the other teams, my adrenaline was building as our time to run the course approached. Publisher Rich Macke took the first leg, rolling a large tire through caution cones before lifting it onto a pallet. After completing his leg with fluidity, he passed the overalls off to me, it was my turn to put on boots and fill up a bucket of water before carrying it over a teeter-totter.

While flipping the overalls’ straps over my head, I ran to the boots — one pair was a size 9 and the other a size 14. The plan was to grab the size 14 and slide them on over my tennis shoes. I grab one of the boots and slide my foot into it. About halfway down, my foot gets stuck. Rather than forcing it on, I decide to try the other foot and I have a similar result. What was going on?

I grab the top of the boots and pull up, but they don’t budge. Not wanting to let the other team get too far ahead, I figure just go with it and run over the teeter-totter with my boots somewhat on. As I make my way toward the teeter-totter, I realize walking on the leg portion of the boot and part of the sole was no cake walk. I could hardly keep my balance as I gingerly stepped onto the 12 inch-wide wooden plank. With a couple steps up the plank behind me, I felt a pop in my toe and then I realized the weight from the water-filled bucket was tipping me to my right, so I tried to move it in front of me. It was too late to recover though.

I fell off the plank, surprisingly catching my footing before big wave of water rolled out of the bucket onto me. Now that I was cooled off, I was ready to compete.

Despite the fact my boots were slipping off, I walked back toward the plank. After taking a step, a sharp pain stabbed the side of my left ankle and I could feel my foot pulsing. Well, I’ve played volleyball on a broken toe, so surely I could walk across a teeter-totter with a sprained ankle.

As I made my ascent toward the pivot point, I could hear my husband yelling at me to get through it as well as Steve Flower telling me to look at the end of the board, rather than down. Once I reached the pivot point and the teeter-totter hit the ground, I ran down the other side and made my way toward Ashley Young, who was completing our third leg. About halfway to her, I was running so fast my boots flew off.

After the judge checked the water level in the bucket, I handed off the overalls to Ashley. She navigated through the pin with a fly swatter as she hit white inflatables with X’s into the adjoining pin before milking water out of a bottle. Preston Goehring, who ran our final leg helped Ashley expedite the milking process by squeezing the bottle. Rich and I were laughing at this point as the FFA team crossed the finish line.

With two hay bales over the fence, Preston leaped over to load the bales into the wheelbarrow. As we watched him weave between the cones, the top bale fell out, but Preston’s recovery speed kept us in the race. After crossing the finish line, Preston threw his hands up into the air as team Star-Herald conquered the chore time relay in an entertaining fashion.

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Lauren Brant is a reporter with the Star-Herald and the Gering Courier. Contact her at 308-632-9043 or by email at