If you’ve never been to a small town County Fair, it’s hard to explain the atmosphere. Hard to put into words the anticipation and sense of communty it brings. I think Chris LeDoux says it well though:
“Well, there’s a full moon in the western sky
And there’s magic in the air
Ain’t nothin’ I know of, can make you fall in love
Like a night at the county fair”
And if I had a picture of the mid-way at night, or the mid-way at all, I’d share it here. But in the rush & excitement of Fair Week, I forgot to take one. Epic fail. I’m still learning, folks!
There really is a magic about a small town County Fair though. For one week in the summer, neighbors from all over the County & beyond converge in one place to celebrate their community, their rural lifestyle and each other. I see friends every year at fair that I might not have seen since the year before at fair. We catch up and share stories and exchange pictures of each other’s kids. And we eat.
Fair wouldn’t be fair without food. And in a small community, many of the food booths are non-profit groups fundraising for their cause. Whether it’s Swim Team super nachos, Lions Club popcorn–which miraculously tastes soooo much better at fair–, Legion Burgers with fried onions (betcha can’t eat just one!), Catholic Women’s homemade pie (even the crust), or the Boy Scouts fry bread with butter, cinnamon & sugar,… you’re guaranteed to gain 10 pounds just smelling the air. Nobody minds though, because they’re supporting a good cause and making memories.
Food is a huge part of the Open Class building at our Fair as well. This building is where the bakers, canners, gardeners, growers, seamstresses, photographers, & skilled crafters bring their wares for all to see. The display is a standing testament to the fact that the lost arts of homemaking are not lost. They’re alive & well…and yummy! Well, ok….I didn’t actually taste test any of the crafts, clothing, or photo’s– but they were definitely a feast for the eyes!
And here’s a picture of my own ‘Best of Show’ project– a scrapbook I created for my Mother-in-Law of her trip to Ireland.
Of course, no County Fair is complete without 4-H. I remember growing up, spending hours & hours completing record books & finishing last minute details on projects. And even though our kids haven’t participated in 4-H, I’m a firm believer that the lessons learned in countless clubs across America will continue to build skill & character in younger generations.
My favorite part about 4-H is the education about agriculture, specifically beef production. I love that kids are learning about feeding the world in a responsible way– as well as all the other applications animal production has too!
The stock show is always a highlight at Fair Time. It’s the culmination of lots of hard work, sweat & tears — and a reward for a job well done. The kids bringing these pigs, sheep & steers as 4-H projects have learned how to raise & properly care for their animals as part of the American food chain that helps provide the safest, most abundant & least expensive food supply in the world. In this ring though, they’ll receive well over market price as the auctioneer takes competing bids from neighbors, local businesses, & Grandparents, all interested in filling their freezers for winter & supporting the local program. It’s another community event, even broadcast by the local FM radio station.
Grand Champion Steer all bedded down
Ready to go to work!
In the sale ring.
The grand finale of Fair in our County is the Demolition Derby. There’s nothing like a lot of engine noise, dust, flying mud, & twisted metal to bring a crowd! The stands are packed, and every square inch around the arena that isn’t designated as a ‘pit’ area for the cars is lined with pickups full of spectators with lawn chairs & coolers. And of course, Farmer Farver is in his glory right in the middle of the whole ruckus as organizer & ring judge.
By the end of the 5 day event– mud bogging, barrel racing, rodeo, food booths, small stage entertainment, night show, carnival, derby and the commercial, open class,& 4-H buildings/animal barns– everyone involved is exhausted. Every inch of our Fair (except the carnival) and thousands of others like it is produced and manned by locals. Farmers, ranchers, main street business owners, day care providers, bankers, coaches…. they all come together. For one magic week. For the love of Rural America & Small Town USA. For one crazy good time! And regardless of the hours spent and sleep lost, they’ll all be back to do it all again next year. And so will we.
We’d love to hear stories about your County Fairs! Stay awhile and leave us a note in the comments section.
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