By L&T Managing Editor Larry Phillips
I recently turned 63 years old, an age I didn’t think I would reach a decade or so ago due to battles with cancer and leaking aortas, but God has been looking out for me.
Unfortunately, many of you out there know how your views on life is forever altered after experiencing near-death events.
Mine is no different.
We wake each day thanking God for another sunrise, for another chance to do something worthwhile, for the chance to help others see how wonderful life can be.
I was recently appointed to the Seward County Fair Board, and I get to see what the fair can offer to those who really want to take the opportunity and experience something that is as traditional as apple pie and the American Flag – the small-town county fair.
You can go through all the activities; the concerts, the animals, the carnival rides, etc., but seeing children’s faces when they earn those ribbons for the dress they designed and painstakingly stitched together, or the photos they framed – even the glowing pride in their smile when they can exhibit their prize-winning Guinea pigs to everyone.
I ask you to slow down when you go out to the fair this weekend and focus on the faces of the children that are there. It will not only bring a smile to you, it will remind you how the wonder of the county fair can please a child – and I submit, please you, too.
I realize their are folks who think spending money on the fair is wasteful, but I don’t buy that theory at all.
I don’t believe we can look at the fair like it’s – let’s say – a taco stand. Some think we should force someone to pay for the taco shells, the hamburger, the lettuce, the light bill, the water hookup, cooks and waiters and parking – plus make a profit.
I look at the fair as an investment in the whole community. For instance, let’s say the county spends $50,000 putting on the fair and doesn’t get back one dime.
Is that totally wasted?
I don’t believe so, because if the fair can bring 20,000 people into town or get them off their couches locally – and they spend $50 each that relate to the fair (gas to get home, a motel bill for overnight, etc.) – that brings $1 million into the community. That’s a figure that moves exponentially through the county several times.
If I were a business owner and someone said if I would host a 10-day event and it would cost me $50,000, but at the end, I’d make $1 million, what do you think I would do?
What would you do?
The county may not recoup that $50,000 outright, but its citizens reap the benefits of that money being pumped into the local economy. That’s a good investment, as far as I’m concerned.
To me, hosting a county fair not only makes financial sense, its additional benefits are hard to put a dollar value on – like the fun kids have, or the bragging rights of stock car drivers hoisting that fair championship trophy, the rewards of exhibiting hand made crafts and canned goods. There are just so many intangibles that exist because of a county fair – that’s if we look, really look.
The reason there are “old sayings” is because they are true – such as, “Stop and smell the roses.”
That is so apt for so many of life’s moments, and especially apt for the traditions of the county fair. It’s like no other, and shame on us if we think we can simply look at it as a financial business transaction. It’s not, it’s a part of our pioneering spirit that built this part of the world. It belongs to us as much as we belong to it.
So when you get out there this final slam-packed-events weekend, look around, see what’s happening to the spirit of those having fun and enjoying the human experience away from the grind of daily survival in a stressful world.
You just might see the fair in a new light.
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