About 30 years ago, our little valley started up a fair. It was a place where the 4H kids could show their animals, local people could sell their baked goods and hand made items to other local people, a tiny carnival would come and the kids would get all excited about the 3 or 4 rides available. The entire valley would shut down including the main street through town, cars would line the streets, and beanbag games and sack races would become a life or death competition. For that one day we all came together and celebrated and played and visited and thought we were pretty big time.
Last week our valley opened our doors to the entire county once again. Our small town fair many years ago turned into a county fair. Our little town of about 9000 souls welcomes nearly 80,000 people annually to a celebration that makes you yearn for the old days. There are funnel cakes and gyros and soft pretzels all over the place. There is pizza and popcorn and turkey legs and, oh my the food is endless! There are 3 stages with 10 hours of entertainment for 4 days, dancing, singing, clowns, hypnotists, great bands. There is a building full of home baked goods, horticulture exhibits, crafts, quilts, photographs and children’s science projects, all judged and ribbons bestowed. It’s a great chance to show off your skills and gain some bragging rights.
The animals at the fair are amazing. The kids work for several months to raise and train these animals on their own or with a 4H group. There were goats, steers, sheep, ducks, chickens, and endless assortment! There were milking demos, goat and cow. Baby chicks to hold, butter carving, the most beautiful peacock I have ever seen. The building was full of all the love and hard work these kids had. But my favorite thing every year is the rodeo!
I have gone to rodeos since I was just a little bit of a kid. In those days it used to be the friends and neighbors all got together and put on a local cowboy rodeo. Now we have a professional PRCA Rodeo and our little fair is on the circuit. The clown is often the same, he’s a pro, but he has used much the same jokes and the same act for the last 3 years, and guess what? We laugh and we sing and we love every minute of it! We cheer for the cowboys and the bulls. We boo when we think the score should be higher. We cheer for the sound boy and his infinite amount of music. We admire the horses and the beauty of such animals. We are amazed at the cowboys ability to stand up after some of those tumbles. We love the rodeo.
The fair is still 95% volunteer labor of all the local people. We don’t shut down the main street anymore, we have a large fair grounds and ball field and lots of parking. But for about 1 week the rest of the valley doesn’t see much action as all efforts are focused on preparing for and running the fair. It’s the one time of year we all come together in such a focused way, the one time a year that everyone seems to get along a little better and everyone gets excited about 4 days that will be full of fun.
When the kids were little we could sit out in our front yard or look out the front window and watch the carnival rides come in over a 3 day period. Such excitement and joy on their faces! Now we are watching the 2 year old grand daughters whoop and holler and ride the ponies and become a part of our families fair history.
Even when you’ve been to the fair every year and you’ve seen it all a hundred times, the fair is still exciting and fun and a great time of year. Memories are built, lives and worries are put on hold, and we spend time just having fun. So find a fair near you and introduce your family to the old fashioned tradition of 4H or fair food or rodeo, and just have a blast!