One of the great advantages to living in a rural area is attending the local county fair. They are something people who live in cities often don’t get to enjoy, which is a shame. I know that some citizens of large cities simply cannot fathom the attraction of perusing a barn full of a variety of farm animals or watching a nine-year-old boy try to lead a cow that is easily two to three times his size in weight and girth.
Having grown up in Iowa, a trip to the county fair was part of an annual rite. You didn’t have to live on a farm to participate in the 4-H or to enter a special project you may have been working on for nearly a year to complete. In a very literal way, going to a county fair allows us to get back to the basics.
Children who may have only thought food came from the grocery store, can get a chance to see the pride our farmers have in what they do. They get a chance to see how much effort it takes to feed not just the nation, but the world.
Sure there are unpleasant smells. Yes, depending on where you walk, you may have to step carefully to avoid getting something nasty on your shoes. It is all part of nature.
I remember spending part of my summers on my grandparents’ farm in northeastern Iowa. I can recall fondly the way my grandfather described the stink coming from the hog pen. To him, “It was the smell of money.” Raising and selling cattle and hogs were some of the tasks he performed to support his family. Without that smell, he would have been forced to find another job. Without farmers like my grandfather, people who enjoy grilling steaks would have to find something else to eat. Without agriculture, we would either have to raise our own food or go hungry.
Maybe checking out the different types of chickens members of 4-H have raised over the past few months is an acquired taste. For me, it gives me a chance to get back in touch with what is real.
I can’t help but smile to myself whenever I walk through a fair grounds and sniff an unpleasant scent coming from the cattle barn. It reminds of what my grandfather used to say every time I complained about the aroma.
Now that I’m back home in the small city where I live, I find myself already looking forward to next year’s fair.