I spent part of each day Friday through Sunday at Ohio’s Wayne County Fair, and there was action everywhere!
On Friday, the day before the fair began, I helped our circulation director Frank Baldwin set up the Farm and Dairy booth in one of the commercial buildings. Even a day before the fair, cars and trucks were parked all over, with people unloading supplies for their booth, as well as livestock projects.
It was almost hard to find a place to park — at least anywhere close to where we wanted to be. We were fortunate to run into some fair staff who stopped by with a forklift on a tow-motor and helped unload our newspapers and other supplies.
All around the grounds, parents and exhibitors were unloading livestock and getting them situated in their new pens and living spaces.
Nearly 10 years ago, I did the same thing. It seems like yesterday when my dad, brother and I would arrive at the fair with our pickup truck and 14-foot livestock trailer with two beef steers inside.
It was slow going once we got inside the grounds, and my dad always had a fuss about people who parked along the roadway, especially those who came a day early just to get in for free.
When we finally reached the beef barn — which was on the farthest side of the grounds — we waited our turn to back up to the barn and then we walked our steers to their places.
I attended the fair again this Saturday to help run our booth, and the place was probably as busy as it will be all week. The total crowd for the day topped 30,000, and it looked like a big crowd as countless people walked by our booth and grabbed a free copy of our paper.
I gave away so many newspapers that when I went to bed that night, I dreamed I was still asking people if they “would like a free copy of Farm and Dairy.”
On Sunday, I returned to the fair in the evening to catch a bit of the Restless Heart concert and some of the 4-H and FFA square dance.
I don’t dance myself, but it sure was fun to watch a full crowd of others — to favorites like She’ll be coming ‘Round the Mountain, and Marching through Georgia.
The organizers started the dance with some more modern tunes — the Cupid Shuffle and Cotton-Eye Joe. But it was the older, legendary tunes that seemed to get everyone most excited.
Takes its toll
All the action of the fair can be a bit tiring — at times very much so! I talked to one volunteer who worked at the fair for 18 hours on opening day, caring for her own family’s dairy animals and helping other exhibitors.
But the fair is a good kind of “busy,” a kind of celebration for the whole county and all its hard work. It keeps young people and adults occupied by something good and beneficial and is usually time well spent.
My dad always said the problems at the fair — if there were any — happen with the midway crowd — not the kids involved with the 4-H shows and the junior fair.
That may be a little oversimplified, because there certainly are many good people who come to enjoy all parts of the fair. But the young people who have projects and responsibilities to keep them busy display a sense of character and ethic that is deep and rich.
In just a few short days, another fair will come to another close and many tired exhibitors and parents will be relieved. But in the meantime, the chores, the crowds, the shows and auctions will keep everyone busy in the best of ways.