It’s Fair Time!

What comes to mind when I say the phrase “county fair”?

  • cotton candy
  • carnival rides
  • ribbons
  • heat index of 115
  • 4-H and FFA exhibits
  • demolition derby
  • concert and beer garden
  • all of the above

Yes folks, it is that time of year again. Time when parents 4-H members work hard to put the finishing touches on their calves, jelly, vegetables, cakes, posters, photos…. Time for everyone to show off their best effort and get together to celebrate the lost art of making something yourself (rather than buying it).

All around the country, kids are lining up green beans to see which are the longest and straightest and trying to remember if they need 10 beans or 12 to make an exhibit. Mothers everywhere are scrambling around wondering where they stored the seed packets because they can’t remember the variety name of those green beans. Fathers are looking through the refrigerator for leftovers, wondering which foods they are allowed to eat and which ones are going to the fair. Little brothers and sisters are sneaking around the sacred exhibits trying to see….[insert crashing noise followed by loud wails from the older sibling here]. 

The fair is a lot of work and effort. So many people volunteer countless hours to make this event happen. Many more pay a small tax levy to support the fair. Why? What has made this event a long-standing tradition–one that has survived modernization, technology, and video games? I would love to hear your ideas!


About jheem

I grew up on a diversified dairy farm in southeast South Dakota where I learned how to throw a hay bale, pull a calf, deal with death, and "name" the cows. I was in 4H and FFA, and was privileged to serve as a state FFA officer. In college, I studied animal science, focusing on beef cows, mostly because I figured they were less work than dairy cows....I ended up with a Masters Degree in ruminant nutrition and went to work for the University of Nebraska, first as a research tech coordinating data collection for a swine unit and beef feedlot on a research farm and then as an extension educator. In my current job, I focus on environmental issues related to animal agriculture (which is a nice way of saying I talk about manure alot). My husband and I live and work on a seedstock cattle operation in northeast Nebraska. You can learn more about our cattle operation by visiting my husband's blog at
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