Sunday, September 18, 2011

The County Fair: More than Rides, French Fries, and a Midway

This week, I've spent quite a bit of time at the Wyandot County Fair, where my FFA students show. This fair is a new experience for me, so I've enjoyed taking it all in. I've found there isn't anything quite like grabbing a cup of coffee, finding a nice corner, and people watching. I've observed some pretty remarkable things while sipping on a cup of joe.

  • I've seen the excitement as a new 4-Her shows his animal for the first time.
  • I've watched teenagers earnestly shake hands businessmen who have made an investment in youth and in the community by purchasing animals in the junior fair livestock sale.
  • I've smiled as farmers catch up with their neighbors and friends, who they don't get to see nearly enough throughout the year.
  • I've chuckled as gaggles of kids run around the fair, never getting into too much trouble but raising watchful eyebrows nonetheless.
I've also been reminded of how pivotal the Knox County Fair was in shaping me as a person. I often tell people that outside of FFA, junior fair activities had the most impact on my personal development. Junior fair board helped me further develop responsibility, follow-through, and a solid work ethic. More importantly, it allowed me to "network" with other like-minded youth. (Though, at the time, we didn't call it networking, we called it hanging out!) I'm glad to say that those like-minded individuals are still in my life, though like the farmers I mentioned above, I don't get to see them nearly enough.

I realize that most people will never feel the emotions and nostalgia that those of us who grew up a little more each summer at the county fair experience. If you understand what I'm saying, though, the next time you visit a fair, whether it's where you grew up or not, smile and be thankful for strong, positive experiences being such a big part of our young adulthood. 

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