kids at ag fair

Over the past few months, many of us in the Lancaster Farming editorial department have remarked about how exciting it is to be able to go out to fairs again this year.

After a year of cancellations, having a relatively normal fair season is like a breath of fresh air.

Last year, I was lucky enough to be able to attend some of my hometown fair’s modified activities as a reporter, but being in an almost empty fairgrounds certainly wasn’t the same.

But now the Lebanon Area Fair is going to be back in full swing, and I’m very much looking forward to spending my nights this week volunteering at and enjoying the bustling fair.

For the past eight years, I’ve participated in my fair’s theme poem contest. Every year, the state fair association releases a new fair theme, and many fairs offer fair theme competitions.

The theme poem contest is exactly as it sounds. You write a poem based on the fair theme that year.

I love writing poetry. It’s such a free and refreshing style of writing, something I often turn to when I need to get thoughts or emotions out that can’t seem to be expressed any other way.

Fair Inspired a Career in Ag

So the theme poem combines two of my favorite things, poetry and the fair.

This year’s theme — Making Memories One Fair at a Time — really stumped me for poem inspiration for a while. But it got me thinking about all the Lebanon Area Fairs I’ve attended over the years — which is well over 20.

I’ve realized how, even though my experiences at the fair have changed as I’ve gotten older, I still pretty much view the fair the same way I did as a young child.

When I was a kid, the fair was a magical experience. Every time school let out for the summer, I’d excitedly wait for the end of July so I could go to our fair.

Since I didn’t grow up on a farm, going to the fair offered a glimpse into the world of agriculture — a world that as a child I had no idea would become my future career path.

I loved seeing all the farm animals up close and personal (especially the goats, and that part hasn’t changed). I loved meeting the fair queens and dairy princesses.

I never would have dreamed that one day I’d even be the alternate fair queen. I still have my sash and crown from that year, and I look back at those memories with great fondness.

The fair was my first real exposure to agriculture, and it was where, as a teenager with friends in 4-H, I fell in love with the ag industry. And the fair is where I realized that I wanted to work in the ag industry one day.

Fairs can introduce a whole new generation to farming. I’m proof of that.

So even though my role in the fair has changed from a child excited about animals and games to an adult volunteer, I still see the fair as that same magical experience. It will always hold a special place in my heart.

Thinking back over my 20-plus years attending the Lebanon Area Fair really did inspire my theme poem for this year. And even if I don’t win a ribbon for it, I’m glad that it led me to reminisce on all my past fairs.

If any of our readers head out to the Lebanon Area Fair this week, maybe stop by the West Hall to check out my poem. I’ll see you at the fair.

Will you attend your local fair this year?

July 24, 2021

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Regional Editor

Stephanie Speicher is the regional editor at Lancaster Farming. She can be reached at sspeicher@lancasterfarming.com or 717-721-4457.

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