Some last year, of my own kids. Some 20 years ago, at my home fair. Some 40 years ago, when I was far too young to remember.
Yet here we are, in 2016 Illinois, where money is scarce and budgets are sketchy, and county fairs are struggling. The folks who work with county fairs across the state tell me 20-30% of county fairs may not be able to operate next year, unless state funding is restored and actually appropriated.
That’s just sad. And frustrating.
For sure, we have a lot of worthy causes in Illinois, worthy of budget attention, and some causes perhaps more so than county fairs. But I’d argue those few summer days in a hot barn are the very making of some of our rural young people. Where they learn to win and lose, both equally graciously. Where they learn to work, and see it pay off. Where they learn budgets and economics, and feed rations, too. Where they learn to work together and get along with people. And to be grateful.
So with that, we thought it might be high time to celebrate the county fair. But we need your help, and we think photos are the way to do it. So go through your files and your phones. Pull out your favorites, and send me your favorite county fair photo. We’ll feature them here and in the magazine.
And really. I can’t wait to see them.