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From left, Wyatt Wade, and Wyn Lawrence, and friend Leah Heffley celebrate their wins at the conclusion of the show. Marytina Lawrence / Special to Agweek

The county fair keeps values and friendship alive for 4-H children

It's county fair season. It seems that everyday on social media I am reading about one proud mom or another with wonderful postings about their performances at the local county fair, and it warms my heart.

This nostalgic pastime is slowly becoming a thing of the past as I watch the attendance at our fair diminish little by little every year. It used to be the place to go! The county fair was the highlight of the summer in every community.

I am not going to take the next few words to condemn our society for their change in interests, or speculate on why the county fair is not the hottest event in town. However, I do want to take a moment to tell you what the county fair has meant to my family over the years, and why I still think it is the best event in town.

A group of 4-Hers playing cards in the barn.My four children have been actively involved in 4-H for the past 10 years, and the culmination of their 4-H year is the county fair. It is the county fair that gives them an opportunity to compete with their projects, both live and static. The range of opportunity to display talent is endless. There is truly something for everyone.

Moreover, there is more than just competition that takes place at the fair. The relationships developed amongst the young people over the course of time are unmatched. Hard work, responsibility and commitment to the care of animals — and one another.

It is a cliché, but the truth, when I say that these young kids become a small, intimate family, supportive, helpful and playful. They turn food booth work into fun, barn cleaning into a sporting event and show box card games become the entertainment of choice. No social media needed.

As a parent, the opportunity to watch our children work together, compete together, and celebrate one another has given my farmer husband and I great joy. We share with our fellow parents the feeling of peace as we see the bonds that are formed during the experiences of life that will stay with them forever, and the anticipation that someday our children can have children in the same situation someday, due the tight knit community we live in.

Camaraderie is a lost art. With all the advancements in technology, most young people don't understand the value of building relationships that last longer than a snap chat. The county fair is the magical place in time where the values of the past are still strong, life is pure and the friendship is real.

I am so thankful for the county fair and what a rich part of our life has become. If you have not been to the county fair, or have not been in a while, I encourage you to go. Take in the atmosphere, talk to the 4-H children and enjoy a classic part of Americana.