Some have suggested that they’ve gone out of style, that the concept of a county fair is a quaint, antiquated relic of the past.
Gone are the days when people came from miles around, tying their horses in the shade of the big trees that lined the fairgrounds, or parking their new-fangled automobiles on the rutted grass of nearby fields.
When women put on their best bonnets, carefully carrying baskets of their prized jellies and preserves, modestly disguising their pride when the judge awards the blue ribbon to their offering.
When pink-cheeked girls blushed and giggled as they peeked at the barefoot, bashful boys who stood in line at the kissing booth, and men in overalls leaned against the wooden rails on the fence that corralled the mules and cattle, leaning over occasionally to spit a stream of brown tobacco juice into the dust at their work-booted feet.
The sounds of tinkling music and wholehearted laughter and the bleating of sheep mixed with the aromas of fried chicken and lemonade that wafted from the picnic area, all under sunny skies that gradually, but all too quickly, faded to sunset and then dark, thus bringing to an end a day that had been long anticipated for its interjection of fun and fellowship into an otherwise dreary everyday existence of drudgery.
“Old-fashioned,” some say now.
Obsolete. A vestige of bygone days.
There are so many other entertainment options now – too many.
Kids for whom every moment of life has been a swirl of lights, noise and action are not going to be enchanted by a clown who twists balloons into animal shapes.
Nobody is canning green beans anymore.
A contest for biggest pumpkin? Please.
Who cares about a dusty county fair in the heat of summer when there are theme parks luring in tourists with promises of virtual reality experiences, and movies and video games at your fingertips?
Nobody cares about the county fair anymore.
But “they” forgot to ask the family as they park their van in the field and hurry toward the admission gate, children squealing with delight as they tug on their parents’ hands to urge them along.
They forgot to ask the young man who knocks down the wooden milk bottles with his allotted three baseballs, nonchalantly tossing the teddy bear prize to the pretty girl at his side, pretending not to be jealous as she snuggles the bear and kisses its nose.
They forgot the ask the good ol’ boys who have been working hard all week as they take their places in the stands to watch the tractor pull, adding their hoots and hollers to the roar of the big engines as they lurch toward the finish lines.
They forgot to ask the children whose 4-H entries are displayed in the shady pavilion, proud proof that yet another generation will know how to sew, how to paint, how to grow vegetables, how to raise a calf.
They forgot to ask the legions of volunteers to make it all possible, as they nod, smile and wave at friends and neighbors during the one week that culminates a year’s worth of work in booking bands, scheduling pageants, dragging the dirt track, lining up sponsors and vendors and judges.
Maybe the concept of a county fair is “old fashioned.” But the spirit of community will never go out of style.