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The county fair is a staple of the Lawrence family's cattle show schedule and a week of the summer that is fun-filled, sleepless and rewarding. (Marytina Lawrence/Special to Agweek)

Celebrating the culture of the county fair

Traditionally this is a big week for the Lawrence Family. Like many other families in our community, our kids are involved in 4-H and FFA and participate in their local county fair. They spend time all year preparing animals and general projects to exhibit and show at the local fair with the hope of gaining a bid to the State Fair.

I love the county fair. It is a time when the community you live in comes together, both exhibitors and spectators, to enjoy and celebrate. This leads me to my main point of the day. The county fair of yesterday is long gone due to decreased participation and involvement on all levels. Even from the point of spectating, there are less and less people choosing the local fair as a place to go for entertainment and recreation. Still it is an iconic American event — if you have not ever been to it, you should try it.

My farmer husband and I grew up as 4-Her's at the county fair and have passed that on to our children. They know it to be a staple of their cattle show schedule and a week of the summer that is fun-filled, sleepless and rewarding. It is a time of fellowship with friends and family, and an opportunity to reach out to those who are interested in what we do every day on the farm and why we do it. There are ribbons, auctions, showmanship, interviews and so much more to participate in. And not to mention the food! Nothing in the world like fair food.

We will be at our county fair all week with 10 head of cattle, four head of kids and an appetite to savor the experience of county fair life for one more year. We live in a small town with the blessing of having the county fair right up the street from us, but many will come from far and wide to exhibit.

When you live in a rural area, there are folks you only see once a year — at the county fair. And when you see each other, it's like a family reunion, and that is the part I love the most. Our fair family and the chance to catch up with each others. Since we were together last year, we have seen many changes in our family, as have many others. This is a time to celebrate wins and losses, collaborate on what it means to raise livestock and gain insight into the future. It is invaluable.

If you have not been to a fair before, I would encourage you to give it a whirl. Take a slice of Americana and partake in an age-old tradition of culture from way-back-when. Most county fairs are economical, and some may even have free admission. The experience you gain is worth the time and investment.

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