Saturday, August 9, 2014

County Fair Time

Where has this summer gone? I am not sure about anybody else but I cannot believe that the majority of this summer is now in the rearview mirror. I had so many plans for the kids and I this summer and very few actually happened. I guess I do have a couple of weeks to squeeze as much work out of them as I can before they go back to school.
Yes, summer is about over but my favorite part of summer is just about here, the Pottawatomie County Fair. I am not a big fan of the two weeks leading up to fair and all of the frantic, last minute preparations (don’t even try to tell me that anybody out there is any different) but I really enjoy our county fair. The county fair is the culmination of a long year of work for our 4-Hers and a celebration of all they have accomplished.
I am kind of partial to our fair, but I have now judged in somewhere around sixty of our counties and one or two counties in Nebraska and I can tell you that nothing beats a county fair. Each county has its own unique quirks, foods and events but in each fair many of the same qualities carry through. Each fair is a piece of Americana that most people do not get to experience and for that is sad. Maybe a lot of our problems would be solved if everyone was required to attend a county fair.
People who had never attended a county fair could learn a lot about hard work. The livestock and countless other projects exhibited at the fair represent hours and hours of hard work in preparing them to be displayed. Most often they are a family project involving parents and kids and family teamwork is a rare thing in today’s society. 4-H projects represent good kids, learning real skills and working hard. All of society can learn from that.
Any lost soul who has not attended a county fair would also see volunteerism in its finest form. At any county fair you will find someone who is tired, dirty and sweaty and most likely they will be a fair board member, fair volunteer or 4-H leader who are working long hard hours both before and during the fair. They do this because of their love of the fair and all it represents and never ever think a thing about it or expect anything in return.
Community pride is also something that seems to be going by the wayside in our current society. Each fair I have ever attended or been a part of has a great deal of community pride associated with it. People are proud of what their county has to offer. Nothing can tell you more about a county and its people than the fair parade and the entries that come down the street. One note of caution would be to remember that this year is an election year. Much like the ants at a picnic, overlook the politicians and enjoy the parade.
Finally, to me the most important part of my county fair is the relationships and friendships that are formed and renewed during the fair. Often it is the only time of the year that we see some of our friends. Many people come back to their hometowns during the fair. It is also about the only time we have out of our busy hectic lives to sit down and have real conversations without worrying about where we have to go next. If you have never attended a county fair and you were dropped into the middle of one you would see human interaction at its finest and the real value of true friendship. I know our society could use more of that.
I cannot imagine what my life would be like if I had not gotten to observe and be a part of all of the county fairs that I have experienced. From being completely immersed in the Pottawatomie County Fair as first a 4-Her, then the agent, parent and volunteer, to the many other fairs I have judged at or simply attended, I have seen the true value of what the fair brings. It is truly something that all of society could benefit from.
I would urge you, if you are not a part of a county fair, to find one and attend. Go take in the shows and watch the hard working 4-Hers. Watch the volunteers work with those youth, and others work behind the scenes. Sit down at a picnic table and enjoy a meal from the foodstand and watch all the activity. Watch friends talk, kids play and all the buzz of activity. I hope you will take the time to attend a fair; it is a time to relax and reflect about all that is good.

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