5 reasons to love the fair

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The highway entrance to the Pike County Fair was lined with orange cones and police monitors to direct traffic for an entire week. I self-imposed a detour to and from work to avoid the slow-down. This weekend it took me 15 minutes to find a parking spot at the Ross County Fair, and another 15 minutes to navigate through the crowds to set up an Extension display. If I loved fairs less these setbacks would be a problem, but they are a small price to pay for all the fun the fair has to offer!

The county fair connects family, friends and community.

1 Food
Nothing excites an empty stomach like the smell of fair food. A full week before the fair begins, I start salivating over all the foods I will enjoy. Roasted corn, caramel apples and colorful snow cones are my favorite fair treats.

2 Education
The fair is a fantastic place to learn about local agriculture. Walk through display barns to view sample grains, hay, vegetables, fruit, eggs and horticultural items grown in the county.

Students’ agri-science exhibits showcase current Ag issues and solutions. 4-H clubs create stunning educational visuals of projects ranging from leadership to natural resources. Future Farmers of America (FFA) demonstrations summarize FFA students’ Supervised Agriculture Experiences. I am always impressed by students’ handiwork in welding, electrical, machinery and equipment.

3 Entertainment
Fairgoers delight in riding the Ferris wheel and playing carnival games, but rides and games are only two types of entertainment you’ll find at the fair. I look forward to the tractor pull and antique tractor show every year. This year my county added a draft horse & mule pull to the schedule of events.

Contests are a time-honored fair tradition. Fairgoers can watch the crowning of the king, queen and court. The talent competition showcases the best singers, jugglers and comedians in the county. Horseshoe, nail-driving and food-eating contests are open to public entrants.

Last but far from least, grandstand and bandstand entertainment offer an array of derbies, races and concerts. A different event each night is a good reason to buy a season pass.

4 Livestock
Show cattle, sheep, goats, horses, poultry and rabbits are on display at the fair. This season several Ohio counties limited swine exhibitions as a precaution to guard against swine flu. In years past similar biosecurity measures limited poultry exhibitions. Nevertheless, there are plenty of farm animals primped, prepped and put on display.

Junior livestock exhibitors work hard to raise and care for their market animal projects. Winners beam with pride when their dedication pays off with a ribbon. Senior livestock exhibitors compete in open shows. I marvel at the high-quality and composition of the animals in my county, but I like to the fun shows, barrel racing and costume, the most.

5 Get to know local businesses
Local businesses and organizations give back to the county at the fair in several ways. They rent space on the fairgrounds to showcase goods and service offerings. They advertise on fair signs and in fair publications. They purchase junior livestock exhibitors’ market animal projects; teaching kids that marketing the animal is an important part of production.

The next time you shop for goods or services, recall the local businesses you saw at the county fair. These businesses grow the local economy, invest in the community and its residents. They deserve our support in return.

Fair listings

Check out Farm and Dairy’s 2017 Fair Schedule.

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