A crowded parking lot and long lines may not sound like a blessing, but last week at my local fair, I was happy to be stuck in a huge crowd.
After last year’s rainy summer that washed out many fairs and caused drops in attendance, the good weather last week was a sigh of relief for the many volunteers and exhibitors at the Lebanon Area Fair. I spent my fair week packing Kid’s Day goodie bags, handing out giveaways at Community Night, giving information at the fair manager’s table, organizing radio interviews, judging the talent show and even parking cars.
Of course volunteering didn’t stop me from having fun too; I got to watch livestock shows, go line dancing and participate in some much-anticipated goat yoga.
It seemed like there was never a slow moment, and though I went home exhausted every night, I’m glad that it never slowed down.
Even the 90-degree weather during the first two days and a little rain during the rodeo didn’t seem to deter crowds.
Local fairs are volunteer-powered and have a finite budget, so a year of bad weather can really hurt, and bad weather two years in a row could be catastrophic. Luckily, this summer hasn’t been the soaker that last year was, and fairs seem to be getting a chance to bounce back.
I was happy to have to park far away from the entrance, happy to wait in line to get into the fair and happy that the lines for food and milkshakes snaked far through the grounds. These little annoyances meant that our fair was doing well this year, and that the fair will be able to continue for years to come.
I was especially happy when we almost ran out of our Kid’s Day goodie bags and had to quickly pack more. Reaching children to teach them about agriculture is so important, especially since many of them are multiple generations removed from farming. We had close to 500 kids come on our Kid’s Day, both from camps and daycares, as well as parents bringing their families. That’s 500 kids who got to learn about cows and corn, kids who may not have known anything about it before.
I remember being so disappointed when it rained on Kid’s Day last year and many camps and daycares canceled their planned trips to the fair, but the hundreds of kids running around the fairgrounds this year certainly made up for it.
I’m glad to see photos and stories from other fairs that have also benefited from good weather this year. All of our local fairs do a great job promoting agriculture, and great weather can only help.
I hope the rest of fair season stays nice and sunny, and that all local fair volunteers will get to have the happy annoyance of an extremely crowded fairgrounds.