County fair season is kicking off in my area of the country. I firmly believe that 4-H and FFA are two of the greatest youth programs out there, and that the county fair is truly a community-forming event for rural America. It’s a celebration of not only agriculture’s traditional rural lifestyle but also the values it embodies.
Perhaps I overestimate the value of youth programs, but I have seen the difference these programs make, not only in our lives but those of our kids. Still, I’m always amazed at the level that the community will support these programs and I have to believe it’s because they all see the value, too.
Most of us tend to get choked up when we hear the national anthem and see the flag being carried around the rodeo arena. I don’t want to compare it to the emotions that a fluttering flag generates, but I have to admit that every time I see a funnel cake I can’t help but think of a county fair, and the role it plays in rural America.
Perhaps the real challenge is how we can create that connection with agriculture and our values to the millions of our fellow citizens who never have the opportunity to attend and experience a county fair.