The North Country is now in the midst of the annual tradition that is all about fried dough, Ferris wheels and derby cars.
Counties throughout the state are holding their annual county fairs and festivals throughout the months of July and August. Clinton County and Essex County have already wrapped up their shows for 2013, while Franklin County and Addison County, Vt., run through this weekend and the Washington County Fair kicks in on Aug. 19 and runs through Aug. 25.
For many communities, the county fair represents the peak of summer activities. The provide a chance for people to come together on an annual basis and provides a chance for young and old to show their crafts and promote their passions. It gives families a less expensive option when it comes to providing entertainment like rides and shows for their children then one might find at other theme parks in the region.
Most of the fairs here continue to focus on the world of agriculture, which is making a strong comeback. The world of the local farmer has experienced a renaissance of sorts during the past 10 years, and while there are still plenty of dairy farms with cattle to show and display, local produce farms are also given a county-wide stage to show and sell what they harvest.
4-H and Future Farmer’s of America organizations build their entire year around the one week every year that they have to shine at the county fair. Whether it is through competition like horse and cattle shows or displaying what they were able to do as a group, the county fair is the biggest stage that they may have the entire year. Most also conduct a major portion of their fundraising at fairs through raffles and dairy stands, selling milk, ice cream and more to help fair-goers beat the summer heat.
Fairs have also become a stage for local talent. From daily concerts for bands and performers, “living the dream,” to talent search competitions for all ages, fairs give kids and adults alike a chance to step into the spotlight in a fun and family-friendly arena.
At the same time, we would be remiss if we did not take a moment to thank all of those who make these events possible. A lot of times, all fair boards and fair leaders hear is negativity, but we want to commend them for the work they do. While the lay person only sees what happens the couple days before the fair opens through the few days past closing, members of local fair boards and agricultural societies start planning for their week of events almost as soon as the gates close. In Essex County, organizers were talking about midway and fair date options for 2014 two days before the 2013 fair ended.
It’s a lot of hard work to find the perfect fit of carnival, entertainment and attractions at the right price, and it seems the only time anyone speaks up is when — in their opinion — that fit is not right.
Not us. We want to thank you all for making the summer a little more fun for everyone at prices that are much more reasonable then any other venues can offer. Your hard work and dedication to your county and those you serve is sincerely appreciated.
We can’t let this editorial end without a quick word out to the Essex County Board of Supervisors. We’ve heard the rumblings about shuttering the 165-year-old fair and they are quite concerning. The Essex County Fair is vital to the core of what makes Essex County a rich tradition of agriculture and conservation. Many people have sacrificed hours, blood, sweat and personal funds to make the fairgrounds and fair what it is today. It’s a tradition that needs to be embraced, not used as a political chip. It should be an event organizations like the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism (ROOST) promote and support financially as it is part of the region they represent as the county tourism advocate. Let us speak for many who would tell you, we want this fair, we need this fair.
So to all, get out and enjoy some time at the fair — any fair — and thank those who work so hard to make them possible.