Tonawanda News


August 15, 2013

KEPPELER: In defense of the fair


Tonawanda News — I’ve marveled at artwork and craftwork and food items, lovingly cared-for flowers and produce. There are skills here that too many people sneer at these days. Myself, I wish I’d paid more attention to the idea of 4H when I was in school.

I’ve covered fairs for whatever paper for which I worked at the time, and I’ve watched the pride and concentration on the faces of children taking their first turn in the show ring with whatever critter they raised and cared for as part of 4H or otherwise, cows and sheep, goats and horses, poultry and rabbits. They’ve put their hearts into it, and countless hours they could have spent doing something like playing video games. I know which I consider more admirable.

(Laugh if you want at all the livestock; I’m still country-girl enough to scoff at your disregard for where your food comes from, or those who care for the working animals among us.)

And when it comes down to it, this is what it’s about. Strip away the vendors, the midway, the lights and the noise. The bones of it are the same.

Look at the Erie County Fair. Maybe it’s harder to find, but it’s there on the map. “Horse show area.” Barns A through H, and 1 through 11. “Ag-sperience.” “Creative Arts Exhibit Building” and “4-H Youth Development Building.” 

Would it be nice if we could take it completely back to its roots? Perhaps. But all that noise and bustle and fried food draws a lot of people who otherwise wouldn’t deign to take a look at all that dedicated work, those carefully cared-for critters, those earnest kids their hard-earned ribbons.

Frankly, I think we could all learn something from them.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler.

Jill Keppeler is a writer for the Tonawanda News. She can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @JillKeppeler.

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