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The Scoop - Nothing says 4th like crying babies
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When it comes to Fourth of July baby pageants, there are always several constants.

For starters, you can count on it being blisteringly hot. If spectators aren't fanning themselves with some sort of flat object, it shouldn't be considered an official baby show.

You can also count on there being plenty of crying, screaming and foot stomping. And that's just from me.

Joking aside, baby pageants have become one of my favorite Fourth of July traditions. I've covered the baby show in downtown McMinnville and I've had the pleasure of traveling as far away as Midway to see babies paraded on stage in front of a panel of judges.

Most recently, I've settled into the routine of taking pictures of the Fourth of July baby show in Morrison, an event unparalleled for its level of cuteness. Winning the baby show in Morrison is a springboard to much larger stages, like the baby show at the Warren County A&L Fair.

For all the volunteer service I've done over the years, I'm thankful to have never been asked to judge a baby show. It's a great way to make one family, the winning family, as happy as an ice cream cone. It's also a way to make all the other families, the ones without a first-place trophy, madder than a hornet.

If there's one truth we hold to be self-evident in America, it's not that all men are created equal. I'm convinced that belief is pretty much a fallacy. The truth we hold to be self-evident is that our baby is the cutest of them all.

I know this as a proud father of two boys who, it should be noted, were the two most handsome babies in Warren County. I know this because everywhere we went people would say, "My, just look at that baby! He's so adorable."

What I didn't realize at the time is this is what people say about all babies, not just mine. It's convenient small talk and almost an obligation of sorts. If you see someone with a baby, it's your civic duty to walk up and say, "Just look ... how cute!"

So it was with perhaps misguided optimism that we viewed our first entry into a baby show as a foregone conclusion. It wasn't a matter of if we would win first place. The only questions were how many offers we'd receive for baby commercials and if we'd be willing to fly to Hollywood on a regular basis.

Unfortunately, it's with a sad heart, I'm here to report some 17 years later that we did not win the baby show, but at no fault of our own. It was the fault of those lousy judges, who had clearly been bribed or were part of some even greater level of corruption to prevent deserving babies from winning blue ribbons.

The reason I mention all this now is to help me work through the emotional trauma that still lingers. Perhaps some day that pain will recede.

That's why I say the best way to view a baby show is as an innocent bystander with no stake in the outcome. I'd say the worst way to view one would be as a judge.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.