Ever since I was a little girl, not yet old enough to exhibit animals of my own, the county fair was a highly anticipated time of year. Although I still look forward to this season every summer, my involvement and experiences have changed tremendously throughout the past 23 years.
As I look back on the days of my six-year-old self at the Monroe County Fair, my memories are fairly vague. Remembering the faint smell of kettle corn makes my mouth water; the crash and bang of demolished cars sits me down on the wooden benches in the grandstand; the feelings of sticky, red fingers reminds me of that delicious snow cone that quenched my thirst on a hot summer day; and the faint sound of pigs, cows, horses, and chickens provides background noise as Dad and I walk through a sea of green John Deere tractors.
As the years passed by, I became more involved and the fair quickly developed a different meaning. What was once just a fun day at the fair became the event of the summer, in my eyes. After working hard throughout the year, the fair was the ultimate reward. I was proud of what my family did for a living and the fair was always a way to showcase our passion and hard work. It was a chance to grow, and grow up.
I remember the sense of pride I felt after looking up at my family in the bleachers as they watched me show my first calf. The nervous butterflies that twisted and turned in my stomach return when I reminisce on the day the announcer called my horse, Thunder, and I to the arena for our turn at completing the trail-riding course we had been training for all summer. A smile forms on my face when I look back on the countless water balloon wars that took place in the wash racks. Excitement overwhelms me as I recall winning the 2013 Monroe County Fair Queen contest–a goal I had set for myself during my first few years of joining 4-H. Happiness fills my heart as I relive those “congratulations, kid” and “I’m so proud of you” hugs I received from my parents at the backdrop while holding new hardware for the trophy case.
Regardless of your involvement, I’m sure you have memories filed away from your time at the fair. Now that I am a 4-H has-been, I spend a great deal of time thinking back on the memories made, friendships created, and lessons learned. I now live vicariously through my youngest sister and celebrate in her successes. It’s gratifying to see individuals display the fruits of their labor and watch the agriculturalists of tomorrow prosper and grow through their experiences at the fair. That feeling of accomplishment, passed down from one generation to the next, instills confidence in the future of agriculture. During this year’s local and state fair season, I encourage all of you to step outside the grandstands or midway and instead open your eyes to the best American agriculture has to offer. Ask questions, learn something new, or find ways to get involved.
By: Kylie Peterson
Your donation to CAST helps support the CAST mission of communicating science to meet the challenge of producing enough food, fiber and fuel for a growing population. Every gift, no matter the size, is appreciated.