A fair is an opportunity for lessons


Does time fly when you’re having fun, or is it that you’re just so busy you don’t realize where the time went? Either way, summer is my favorite time of the year. Yes, it’s hot, but I admit I love it.

I enjoy the sunshine, afternoon thunderstorms, birds chirping, lightning bugs, and fields of green. Perhaps it’s because it the best time to be outside. Growing up playing outside and having animals, I enjoyed the extra amount of daylight and freedom I always had in the summer. I also looked forward to those unique events that only came along during the summer.

Fairs…take the time

Although some county fairs have already started or may be over, the season of fairs and festivals seems to be just beginning. The Wayne County Fair (Sept. 8-13) is something that I take for granted.

Growing up here, I just assume that everyone goes to the fair, and I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t go to the fair. I understand that not everyone shares my “sick” enthusiasm, but it doesn’t stop my feelings nonetheless.

The opportunity to learn something new, to revisit with old friends and family, and to share a laugh and enjoy a good show is why I think everyone should attend their local fair. It’s a time for young and old to show off all of their hard work. Whether it’s a prized animal, a photograph, a quilt, or a plate of vegetables, everyone deserves to show off their passions.

There is nothing wrong with pride, and taking the time to showcase your talents. I imagine that anyone that brings a project to the fair has learned something while preparing for the event. The fair has much more to offer than just sausage sandwiches, cotton candy, rides, games and fuzzy bunnies.

Take the time to go through the 4-H display buildings and read what the young students have learned. Talk to the farmers, and see how they care for their animals.

Visit with the non-profit agencies, and learn how they can assist you. Take the time to appreciate some work of art, or antique equipment. Visit your local Soil and Water Conservation District.

Whether it’s a building or just a display booth, odds are you will walk away with some helpful information. Take the time, and then take some extra time to learn something new. You won’t regret it. I bet you’ll even have fun doing it too!

Let kids be kids

As we talk about fairs and festivals, we shouldn’t forget how important and fun it is for youth. The life lessons that can be learned while showing or competing at the fair far outweigh the lessons that are being taught in the classroom.


That may be shocking to hear me say, especially since I used to teach middle school. However, I think parents and teachers today sometimes forget about the realities of life and the importance of socialization and responsibility.

For students that have animals, this is a very important time for them. They have this one time to show off their project, and do the best they can. They may be on their own, but odds are they have their family just as involved in their project.

If they are showing an animal, they will learn the lessons of responsibility and commitment. They will learn that not everyone can win, and that one person’s opinion may not be the same as another’s. They will be building character, friendships, and life skills.

Get connected

Young children and adults need to form connections. They need to get away from the technologies — away from the television, computer, video games, and yes, the cell phone. They need to connect to face-to-face conversations, to real living things, and to the outdoors.

Although a fairgrounds is typically not a quiet wooded lot with a sparkling stream running through it, it does offer some opportunity to get outside, and to get connected. Whether it’s a young 4-H’er that has that connection, or a child from the city going through a barn, petting an animal, the connection to living things and being outside is very important.

When children can connect to living things, they hopefully learn to appreciate them, and their environments. Any type of connection to nature, animals and the outdoors is a wonderful thing for a child to experience.

So, take the time, go to the fair. Let yourself learn something new, let young kids do the same. Connect with friends, and connect and appreciate a living thing. It’s only fair that you experience this opportunity.


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Kelly Riley has been the Education Specialist for the Wayne Soil and Water Conservation District since 2003. She earned her B.A. Degree in Education from the University of Akron and was previously a teacher with the Tri-County ESC. Kelly can be reached at (330)-262-2836 or by e-mail at kriley@wayneoh.org.



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