Every year I have a list of things that are quintessential summer experiences that I check off to be sure I’m making good use of every minute of these long-lighted days.
One of those items, every year, is “go to a fair.”
My appreciation for the fair goes back to my early days in 4-H, when I worked all year to get to the one glorious week to present my work, and best of all, hang out with my friends every day from dawn to dusk. I completed market lamb, dairy, sewing, cooking and presentation projects.
My children tested my coping skills with market swine, market lamb, horse, sewing and cooking projects.
My best friend then remains a best friend now. Our kids were in the same 4-H club. We were 4-H leaders together, and fair superintendents.
You see, my appreciation for county fairs isn’t really about the fair. (Although I have to admit that fair food is part of the attraction.) It’s about the kids who work all year long on their projects to learn how to raise a superior market animal, and acquire the patience to show it. It’s young people learning basic skills like cooking, outdoorsmanship, gardening, sewing, or perfecting techniques in photography, presentations, art and science.
I’m an unapologetic advocate for 4-H and FFA programs. I appreciate the leaders and families who teach responsibility and hard work.
Watch 4-H and FFA kids at the fair. They’ve learned what it’s like to feed, care for and clean up after another living thing. They work together on barn duty, washing animals and practicing for show. Then they take their animals through the auction at the end of the fair. That, too, is part of learning the business of agriculture.
This weekend I’ll check the box on my summer checklist item, “go to a fair,” as I head to the Clatsop County Fair. I’ll eat fair food, to be sure. But mostly I’ll be there to watch a group of our county’s finest young people present their projects for sale to the grandparents and businesses who will support their efforts by buying their market animals.
I hope that I’ll see you there, too.
Kari Borgen is publisher of the Daily Astorian.