As Chester County Dairy Princess, Cassandra Blickley presides over the dairy show at the Kimberton Fair last summer.

In a few days, it will officially be summer. And what comes with summer? Fairs.

Fairs in the Northeast come in all sizes, shapes and content, but their primary purpose is to showcase agriculture, with entertainment coming in a close second. How this is done is up to each individual fair, but generally all fairs try to put the real Americana on display as well as try to educate the general public about country living and agriculture.

You may be saying, “Why should I go to the fair? There’s nothing there.”

I am here to tell you there is something there for you to learn, you just need to look for it. Plus, you will get reacquainted with your community.

Be sure to visit the hay and corn entries, stroll through the crafts and antiques, look at all the beautiful baked goods and photos, and don’t forget the livestock barns where you might just see a newborn calf. Add in the fair entertainment and all the great food, and suddenly you realize there’s plenty of good reasons to attend your fair.

In Pennsylvania, we have 107 fairs with attendance ranging from 4,500 to close to 500,000. In total, fairs in the Commonwealth attract four to five million people each year, and they come for a wide variety of reasons. They may come to support their community, to see their friends, to view the animals, to ride the rides, to look to see if Grandma’s strawberry jam got a blue ribbon, to watch the entertainment, or maybe they came to sample all of the wonderful fair food. What is important is that there is something for everyone at the fair.

So get out and support the fairs in your area. Be sure to attend, but more importantly, consider entering an exhibit. Every person should be able to find something to enter into the competition at their fair. You just need to go online to your fair’s website and pull up the premium book to see the wide variety of things you could enter.

Nothing’s more discouraging to the fair volunteers than to hear someone say he has something better at home. If you had entered, the fair would be so much stronger in that particular department, plus you would get the thrill of a ribbon and possibly a small check for your effort. But there is more to gain by entering than just winning; there is public spiritedness, that sense of being a part of the overall hometown community.

Fairs are more crucial to the well being of their communities than ever before. Having visited nearly every Pennsylvania fair and dozens of fairs around the USA, as well as in Australia, Canada and England, I can tell you that fairs are also a unique opportunity for families to have fun. This is an experience that all ages can enjoy together. Fairs are an opportunity for people to gather and share the kinds of moments that remind us why community and family are what matters the most.

Fairs show us the real world, where our food comes from, how to improve it, and what it takes to meet our nutritional needs. They are a celebration of who we are, what we do and where we live. Fairs give the public a chance to taste it, touch it, smell it and to get how important agriculture is to everyone’s well being. You can’t read this in a book. You need to experience it.

This year, with all our weather problems, is shaping up to be a grim one financially for agriculture. But the fair remains a key showcase for agriculture. The opportunity to educate ourselves as well as nonfarm fair visitors is a huge one. Don’t miss it

Beverly Gruber has been involved in the fair industry since she was a 13-year old 4-Her in Venango County and helped clear the farm that was to become the Venango County Fair. Over the years she worked with nine different county fairs in nearly every area of fair management and has served in every office of the Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs, as well as serving as a zone director for the International Association of Fairs and Expositions.

For the past 19 years, she has coordinated the PSACF Judging School and given presentations at many state association events.

At the present time, she is serving as the competitive exhibit chairman and is in her fifth year as president of the Allentown Fair.