Even though the 2012 Palo Alto County Fair has been in the history books for over a week, there's still plenty of time to recall some of the sights and sounds of the annual celebration of Summer. Now, I'll admit that as a member of the Fair's Board of Directors, I'm biased on this subject. But, I believe that the fair is often misinterpreted in terms of what it should be.
As I was visiting with a fair board member up in Jackson County, Minnesota over this past weekend, he gave me the following piece, which was published in the Minnesota County Fair News and Views, the official newsletter of the Minnesota Federation of County Fairs. He told me that it really explained what a county fair was supposed to be, and in reading it, I have to agree with him.
"It's hard to think of a county fair without conjuring up fond memories. Be it a dance, a purple ribbon won or a fabulous funnel cake, don't we all have something to say about county fairs?
The county fair has stood the test of time, giving us wholesome entertainment in our nation's time of need and forgiving us when we said we were too busy to attend. It teaches our children the lessons of hard work, sacrifice and fairness. It provides us a place to reconnect with our neighbors, our community and ourselves. It offers us avenues for expressing our interests and warmly welcomes the older generation to participate when many of us too readily set them aside.
For many rural communities, the county fair is the heart of the summer with carnivals, cattle and cotton candy. Like Christmas, it is a symbol of the season and reminds us all to take in those last bits of summer fun before school resumes again and winter settles into the Heartland."
I thought the piece said a lot of things very simply, and yet, it hits the mark squarely.
True, our local county fair does not host a carnival with rides and games. That has been a subject of discussion for several years, with some people decrying the fair as "worthless, there's nothing for the kids to do" because of the lack of carnival rides.
To me, that statement is redundant when you're talking about the fair. If you visited the Palo Alto County Fairgrounds you saw a line of youngsters waiting patiently to have their face painted, or to have a creation made out of a balloon made for them. The 4-H County Council offered the Minute To Win It Games, the Ag Olympics, Watermelon Eating Contest, and Mud Volleyball.
No, a fair is so much more than carnival rides a fair is the opportunity to showcase the hard work of our youth, a chance for our youth to learn those lessons of sacrifice and fairness through their hard work, and a chance for a community to come together.
The Fair truly is a celebration of Summer and a reminder that winter's snows and harsh temperatures are coming...