I am often asked why I attend so many fairs. Why go to a place and watch a competition that I have no stake in? The answer is simple; I believe every fair holds a value and should be appreciated.
For one week a year an entire county comes together. For some people a county fair is nothing more than a place to hang out on Friday night. To others the fair is a yearlong commitment of hard work and dedication. People may come and go but one thing is for certain, the fair must go on. Calendars are marked years in advance, events are planned around the dates and vacation days are scheduled.
What makes fairs so memorable is the wide variety of opportunities available. Some people enjoy the rides while others enjoy the food, but I would like to take a moment and recognize the exhibitors. It does not matter if you exhibit flowers, art work or animals, you are what makes a week at the fair so special.
I was never in the show ring as a competitor, but recently I have spent a lot of time inside the circle. I still do not see it from a competitor’s point of view; instead I see the show ring through the lens of a camera. The thing about a camera is that it captures a moment with one click of a shutter. That moment will never happen again, but the picture freezes time forever.
The show ring, in its simplest form, is a showcase of emotions. With every picture of a winner’s excitement comes 10 pictures of a showman’s concentration and disappointment. The range of emotions puts the effort it takes to compete on full display. In a time when smart phones and instant gratification dominates the world, exhibitors at the fair spend months and even years preparing for their five minutes in the spotlight.
The next time you visit your local fair, take a few minutes to slow down and appreciate it. Sit on the bench and talk to the locals, the ones who have been at the fair every year for the past 30 years. Take a stroll through the exhibit buildings and admire the effort of the 4-H and FFA kids. Visit the barns and talk to the local farmers who put the vegetables on your table and the milk in your glass. Take a moment to look beyond the commercialization and recognize the hard work and time spent making the fair a success.
Fairs come and go, years pass by, but memories last a lifetime. Don’t miss out on making a memory because you’re too busy looking towards the future.