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Published: Wednesday, 10/10/2001

Keep country in county fair

Finding a new venue for the Lucas County fair should lead to a revival of the fair as a primarily rural and agricultural exhibition, as many of the fairs in the smaller counties of this region continue to be.

This is not to say that the fair should dispense with the touches of modernity that have helped it adapt to change in popular tastes or the economic establishments of the county.

But a rural setting, and a greater emphasize on agriculture, and agricultural life and interests, would both return the fair to its historical roots and help educate young people, especially, whose knowledge of how food gets to the supermarket seems to recede more from both experience and memory with each passing year.

There ought to be room for animal barns to house the hogs, pigs, sheep, cattle, horses, and other animals whose owners compete for prizes. There ought to be room for tractor-pulling and demolition derbies, which are part of the heartland experience.

And at many county fairs in our region, harness racing is standard fare. It's ironic that racing has been impossible at the Lucas County Fair's urban setting because Skeldon Stadium is a converted racetrack.

There ought to be room for a place to vie for prizes in the canning, drying, and preserving displays of fruit, vegetables, and spices, and room for country craft competitions. Ideally there would also be demonstrations ranging from horse-shoeing to shearing, spinning and weaving wool, to churning butter, to whittling.

A midway is absolutely necessary. What's a fair without a Ferris wheel or a merry-go-round? Or without barkers, sideshows, and a chance to win a plush animal or a kewpie doll by throwing a ball or shooting straight?

The county is wise to consider property it already owns for a new fair site. No need to raise the overhead more than it must. Whatever site it picks, however, should complement the rural and agricultural roots of county fairs.

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