Thursday, July 18, 2013

It's Fair Time

This summer has absolutely flown by and it is that time of the year when the four letter f word enters our vocabulary. I don’t know what four letter f word comes to your mind right away, but at our house the word fair come up in almost every sentence. Yes, we are in the home stretch leading down to fair time. Fair preparation has reached a fever pitch at our house.
I don’t care how hard you work at getting ready for the fair, there is always more to be done. It’s a good thing the date is set because if we could determine the date ourselves, I don’t think we would ever be ready. The animals always need more time, the clothing needs more stitches, woodworking needs more sanding and foods need more practice (that is my favorite fair preparation). The kids work harder and harder as the fair gets closer and suddenly it is here.
Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy the fair. I don’t think you can find anything better to do than to go to a county fair. I have had the privilege of attending more than half of the fairs in Kansas. Over this time I have made the observation that big or small many things are the same no matter what fair you go to. Sure each place has its unique twists and wrinkles but all in all they are fairly (pardon the pun) similar.
Those similarities are what make county fairs a great place to be. OK, I know we all think our county fair is one of a kind, and it is. However, at the core every county fair, many things are the same. I wish there was a way to bring more people out to our county fairs so they could experience these similarities that most of us have grown so accustomed to.
For instance, at every county fair I have every attended I have found some great 4-Hers and FFA members learning real world lessons. The exhibits you see at the fair are the culmination of hours and hours of hard work. The projects on display represent a life skills learned, risks taken and experience gained. The exhibitors represent the best and the brightest and some day they will be the leaders in whatever field they choose.
Just take the time to talk to some of them as you walk around the fair. They will be the ones carrying the water buckets, feeding the animals, sweeping the exhibit halls, or waiting in line for the judge. Ask them about their projects and you will see the pride and I bet you will learn a little. Each year I have the privilege of judging several fairs and each year my faith in the next generation is restored. Every fair I judge I meet great kids, that is one of the similarities.
Fairs are also a place to renew old friendships, slow down, relax and talk to the neighbors we rush past every day. Just take a minute to sit in the grandstands, on the benches or near the food stands and listen to the conversations around you. You will hear updates about families, crops, weather, sports and just about everything else. It doesn’t matter where you go, the conversations  are all eerily similar,
The smells and sounds are even similar in most places. The smell of great food in the concession stand, funnel cakes on the midway and wood chips in the arena. The sounds of carnivals and games mingled with barnyard sounds. In the background is the hustle and bustle of people coming and going, music being played and lots and lots of people talking.
I can’t think of a better place to spend a day or an evening (or in our case four days) then the county fair. I hope you will take time from your busy summer schedule to attend a fair or two in your area. If you are lucky enough to take in more than one fair, take a moment and check out just how similar they are.
Well, back to reality for me. My kids have sheep and cattle to practice with, projects to finish and if I am lucky, cakes, muffins and breads to perfect. I am sure it will be a sprint right up to the last night complete with forgotten supplies and tacky paint. That too is similar no matter what fair you go to.

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