American traditions

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 14, 2002

Going to the County Fair, a tradition as old as cotton in this country, is a deceptive sort of fun. We go to be entertained, to be amused, and to be amazed. We stroll past aisles of artwork, crafts, produce and more while making casual remarks of admiration.

As we have come to do with far too many things, we take the county fair for granted.

The fair closes tomorrow. If you haven't been, go now. If you have been, then go again, and this time, study each booth, each presentation, each piece of work

and see them for the amazing things they are.

In the merchants' booths, we see proof of the American drive to succeed coupled with the fact that we have a higher quality of life than any other nation in the world. In the public service booths, which address literacy, youth sports, the arts, domestic abuse prevention and foster parenting programs, among others, we see our compassion as a nation and our need to make that quality of life available to all. In the overall coordination of the fair, organized and sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, we see the American knack for management and cooperation.

But once you are past those booths, you reach the soul of the fair – the heart and bones of its history. School and 4-H booths line one wall, and beside them, long tables are filled with beautiful flowers, healthy vegetables, quilts and needlework of incredible quality, artwork and photography. Cakes, pies and cookies share the shelves with gleaming jars of preserves.

Stop and look at these items and think about the time spent on each one. How long did it take that child to cut and glue tiny bits of string to create that picture? How many hours did that woman spend in he kitchen, perfecting her jelly recipe? How many varieties of vegetables did that backyard farmer test and taste before finding one to his liking? And why did they do it?

Face it – there is nothing at the fair that can't be purchased

somewhere else. Machine-made mass produced quilts from China can be bought at retail stores, flowers and pies at the local supermarket. Why spend hours and hours making or nurturing your own?

Because that is what we are and that is what we do. Since the first settlers built the first log cabin on what would become American soil, we have prided ourselves on self-sufficiency and survival. We make our own quilts and clothes because we can. When we admire those quilts, and everything else on display at the fair, we are paying homage to the perseverance, self-reliance and innovation of the American people. Each booth displays a single voice of American heritage and together, those voices combine into a chorus of strength and unity.


the chorus and visit the fair, and don't forget to thank the conductors – those volunteers who have dedicated many, many hours to make it all happen.