The fair ended on Sunday with a whimper. Well, a thunderstorm and then a whimper.
After spending at least 12 hours a day since September 3rd working on it and on my feet for pretty much the entire time, a thunderstorm at Sunday noontime washed it out.
All of the vendors fled at the storm. No food or other vendors were left at all. My daughter volunteered her time to sell fair T-Shirts. When the storm hit she was under a canopy in the vendor area while I was in the exhibits tent. While I was scrambling with the rest of the volunteers to rescue exhibits from the flood of water cascading into the tent on all sides, I worried about my daughter in an open sided canopy with the rain drumming down.
I texted her. “Are you OK?”
She replied. “Yeah. The funnel cake people are leaving.”
What could I say? “OK.”
As soon as the rain let up a little, I grabbed a cart and ran to her spot. She was huddled in the middle of the canopy’s area, box of T-Shirts on the table beside her. As far out of the rain and rain splash as she could get, she was playing a game on her phone, feet propped up on the second chair out of the stream of water flowing through her area. I grabbed the box and put it on the cart, draping a borrowed rain jacket over the T-shirts. She headed for her car and I pushed the T-shirt box back to the exhibits tent. What a great daughter.
Also, major kudos to the volunteers. No one gave up. We stayed the rest of the afternoon. Wonders! We still had fair goers! They came, a couple at a time all afternoon between showers. How marvelous. Undeterred by a little precipitation, they came out to see the Zane Grey Award winning miniature garden, the prize winning photographs and my favorite, a junior entry collection of miniature cat figurines. The young girl who brought it in had put the collection in a bird cage with miniature birds perched on the outside of the cage. I couldn’t resist the humor of the entry.
This is what a county fair is all about. It showcase’s the tremendous amount of talent in the area. The fair is also, well, a repository, or an homage to the skills needed to support ourselves through life. Skills in feeding ourselves by crop raising, gardening, cooking, canning, and baking. Skills in clothing ourselves or in making necessities with such skills as sewing, quilting, wood working, or using cast offs to make new items are demonstrated. Then there’s the art. Really! So many artistic people submit entries!
You might have intuited by now that I love the fair. I cannot tell you how many people came through the exhibits and exclaimed, “I never thought of doing that!” This is exactly what the fair is meant to do. It spreads ideas on new ways of doing things. Attendees search out new varieties of plants. (New this year in the gardening section was Bitter Melon. It created quite a stir.) There are of course the bragging rights. My jam is the best. My cake was the lightest. My photograph was the best. I’m growing the newest variety of tomato.
Monetarily the exhibitor doesn’t make any money. Even if the jam maker gets a blue ribbon, she’s spent more money on the jam than she gets back in prize money. But that’s not the point. The point is to share. That’s why many times an entry requires an explanation or a recipe. Prize winners will stand by their entry and tell others how they grew the plant, techniques they used to take the photo, equipment and skills they used to make the rocking horse. And we haven’t even touched on the livestock area of the fair!
The fair is about expanding the knowledge base of the local community. It’s about widening the expertise of the population. The Northern Gila County Fair is scheduled for the first weekend of September every year. When is your county fair? What skill can you share with your community? Visit your fair. You’ll be amazed at what you will find and every year is different.
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