Yesterday we went to the Wright County Fair as it winds down on the last weekend. My daughter and I went with my mother and father, all of us not ready to run any foot races, in fact, looking forward to viewing the small fair at a snail’s pace, two of us walking with canes.
It has always been a small county fair. But it has become almost depressing to see how much it has shrunk since I was a kid and competed there. Of course the beneficent pumpkinhead that runs the country now has put a cloud over it all by cutting off farmers’ primary markets in the trade war with China. Soon there may be no agriculture community at all to celebrate with a county fair.
We toured the 4-H projects exhibit building and saw all the baking, woodworking, photography. and sewing projects that the kids in 4-H had worked on all year. As always they were impressive in the way that enthusiastic kid-work inevitably is. But it was depressing to see that there are only three 4-H clubs in Wright County now where once there were seven. The elderly viewers of the goings-on outnumbered the kids about two to one. Iowa’s farm community population is getting older and older. Schools are shrinking. People per county numbers are declining too.
But as depressing as the long-range view is, the County 4-H program is still giving kids a firm farm-kid grounding in the values that made America great. It proves that pumpkinheads don’t need to try to make it great again.
It is important to celebrate who we are and what we do. Especially in a time when a tractor-and-cornfield way of life seems doomed. And a county fair does that. I helps us define who we are, what values we hold dear, and who we are determined to be for as long as we can be that.