The Herald Bulletin

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Special Reports

July 21, 2010

Editorial: County fair offers connection to community’s rural roots

What pops up into your mind when you think of the county fair? Elephant ears, corn dogs, roasting ears and fried vegetables? Or maybe Ferris wheels and carousels? Some folks think of farm animals, from cattle to hogs to rabbits to chickens and alpacas.

Whatever images “county fair” conjures in your mind, you can find them realized at the Madison County 4-H Fair going on through Saturday in Alexandria.

This annual event offers a tangible connection to our community’s rural roots. You can have direct contact with a 1,200-pound steer or a 300-pound barrow. (Remember to ask before you touch.) And you can watch as farm kids take care of the animals, ensuring that they have the right amount of food, water and comfort.

The sad fact of the livestock shows is that many of the animals are headed for slaughter. But this is one of the many values of the 4-H fair: it teaches lessons about life. The reality is that livestock is just that — live stock — that is raised because it has material value. Without the end game of the slaughterhouse the vast majority of these animals never would have been born.

The fair also provides a platform for face-to-face social contact. Old friends meet on the midway by plan or chance and catch up with one another’s lives in a neighborly sort of way. New friends are made, too. And teens escape the ethereal world of texting and Facebook to talk and laugh in the true old-fashioned, face-to-face way.

Thanks to the many volunteers, 4-H leaders and others, this year’s fair in Alexandria is keeping the summer tradition of the county fair thriving. If you haven’t gone out to see the sights — and hear the sounds, and smell the smells — of the Madison County 4-H Fair, take time today, Friday or Saturday to mosey on over to Alexandria and join in on the fun.

You may leave with a bellyache, but you’ll almost certainly have a smile on your face.

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