To the point week of 07-24-08

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FOR ALL OF YOU WHO MAY have complained about last week’s Switzerland County 4-H Fair – or the lack thereof – you need to remember that there was a lot blood, sweat – and some tears – poured into that week.

No, there weren’t many amusement rides, but for those looking for things to do, there were several location organizations and some 4-H clubs who manned booths throughout the week.

There was also time to stroll through the exhibit hall; wander across the street to the commercial building and bid on some Farm Bureau silent auction items and buy some ice cream; and then wander down to the show arena or the grandstand.

Thursday was a great day at the fair: the club activity day and Mini 4-H events were a big hit; the cat show saw a good crowd; the steer show brought in a big crowd; the peddle tractor pull saw lots of entries; and the Jean Lock Memorial Ranch Sorting event in the grandstands saw a large participation from horse-lovers from around the region.

If you want the Indiana State Fair – Switzerland County edition – then nothing that goes on at our local fairgrounds is going to satisfy you, so get over it.

The reality is that small community fairs and festivals have a hard time locating, booking, and then paying for quality amusement rides. I say “quality” rides because I’m sure that some company can be found, but some rides are so old and flimsy that you wouldn’t want your children on them.

It’s a “Which came first? The chicken or the egg?” thing, really. You want more things at the fair, then you have to come and support them. It only takes one year of low attendance to scare off vendors for years to come. If people come and support the fair, then more groups and vendors will want to come and be a part of it.

Don’t come? Then don’t complain. It’s amazing to me that I hear people around town talking about how “there’s nothing down there at that fair,”; but then I ask them what day they were there, and they tell me “Oh, I haven’t been down there.”

One of the great parts of the fair has very little to do with the events of the fair; but – like the festival in August – the fair is a great time to see friends and neighbors and catch up on what’s going on. The picnic tables are usually filled with people just sitting around and chatting – and that’s a great way to spend an evening at the fair.

Grab a lemon shake-up from the FFA, a burger from the fair food tent, and some ice cream from the Farm Bureau, and you’ve had a pretty good day.

Want more? It’s too late for this year’s fair, but the Switzerland County Fairboard is a group of dedicated men and women would I’m sure would love to hear your suggestions – and enlist your help – in making the fair bigger and better.

Really want to “think outside the box?”

Here’s one for you:

Have a combined fair with Ohio County.

Rotate the fair each year so that each county hosts the event every other year. Hold separate judging events so that each county has Grand Champions in each project area – livestock included – so that things can be sent on to the Indiana State Fair.

Both counties have their own Fair Queen, who would share responsibilities throughout the week.

After a species of livestock has been judged, and showmanship winners have been named for each county; then bring the species champions and reserves from both counties back out into the ring; and crown a “Two County Grand Champion” that would have no bearing on the State Fair, but would recognize the exhibitor as having the best animal at the combined fair.

Do the same thing with showmanship. Let the best compete against the best.

Bring all projects from both counties to a central exhibit hall so that everyone has the chance to see the best from all 4-H members.

Combine fairboard efforts and resources to bring in more activities and possibility some amusement rides. More grandstand events. More games and midway activities.

Hold one big livestock auction; so that businesses and organizations can come to one location and support both counties.

It would be bigger. There would be more to do.

Isn’t that what you want?

I’m figuring that about halfway through this scenario some readers were saying “Lanman is making some sense”; a few others were saying “Lanman has lost his mind”; and still others were saying “What time do ‘Dallas’ reruns come on?”

But I’m also figuring that a large number of you thought: “We can’t lose our county fair!”

You’re right – we can’t.

And the best way to ensure that our Switzerland County Fair continues and grows is to support it.

Come down and walk around. Drop a couple of bucks on a raffle ticket or some food. Pick up some brochures from the businesses in the Commercial Building.

Visit with a friend. Bid on an animal.

Begin to see what’s right with our fair.

Because there’s a lot that’s very right about what’s going on.