I thought the county fair was probably on the way out back in the late
eighties. It seemed like most facilities were pretty worn out and
less and less people farmed which meant less exhibits. I think the
fair and the people who attend fairs have rediscovered they need each
In the early seventies, the fair was everything. One summer, I only
left the farm three times except for the fair so for me it was
socially huge. We always brought cattle to show so we had to make a
trip to the Marshall County Fair in Warren in the morning and at
night. The cattle were our 4-H project and part of the project was to
make sure the animal was properly taken care of at all times. We
would come to Warren early in the morning and that same night after
evening cow milking. Some of the animals were not as well-attended so
we would water them also. Yeah, if you were one of the idiots who
watered your cattle once a day while at the fair and were amazed that
they lived, it wasn’t magic-it was us.
At night, my mom and dad gave me a lot of money to walk the midway
with Ken Krohn and enjoy some rides. It was really a blast. Dad
always said it was the only recreation we got all summer so all of
their children enjoyed pretty free rein at the fair. The downside of
the fair was that I could see the end of summer and the confines of
school were only a few weeks away.
The fair started to look a little down as people found more mobility
and extra money. Mobility meant you could go anywhere for
entertainment and money sent more people to area lakes. Less people
were farming and therefore worked in town. This meant they had less
interest in farming and more discretionary money, and more time, to
enjoy themselves. I think maybe the fair wasn’t enough for these
folks and the fair suffered.
We are now a people bombarded with technology and options. We have
used both of these resources to complicate our lives to the point we
crave simplicity and a more simple life in which many grew up. There
is one quick way to find that life and it is at the fair. The fair
connects people to the most basic element in life-food. We can see
the animals that were used to operate farms, animals that were raised
for food and the crops that we all depend on for food an even fuel.
It is nice to go somewhere that reminds us of what we need. It also
reminds us that all of the other stuff we have is just stuff and not
needed. The fair is a place where we realize what we really need and
from where we originated. The fair and people need each other, the
fair really has a place in the summer.
If you went to the fair, I hope you had a good time. If you plan a
trip soon, please slow down through the exhibits of food, baked goods
and animals. They are examples of the simple things which you really
need. Oh yeah, if you see animals that aren’t watered regularly, go
to the fair board office and let them know. The fair can be a magical
place; however magic doesn’t water the cattle.
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