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People and pets mingle at the fair

July 30, 2013 - Jenny Rukenbrod
The phrase "Wheel on Down" will take front stage this week with the opening of the 168th Columbiana County Fair. For the agricultural community and fair fans in general, this is akin to saying âroll out the red carpetã for the 168th Academy Award Ceremony. Planning and anticipation began the day after the closing of last year's fair. While 4-H members basked in the glow of prizes and trophies, fair organizers entered into their post-mortem review intent on providing an even better show for next year. The County Fair is an intense example of a community where people and pets are connected. This competitive arena where livestock and agricultural know-how gather, no better entertainment on Earth exists. As a long-time fairgoer and vendor for the service organization in which Iám involved, the fair conjures up a variety of impressions. Fact, fiction, lore and tradition come to mind. Life in a simpler time is the aura of the week where families reside among each other, sharing campfires and communal showers. Youngsters can be seen lounging beside their prized livestock. Barns become dorm rooms where matches are made and friendships carved that will result in lives intertwined forever. Discipline and responsibility are constant through the high temperatures that summer can bring and the adversity of the unexpected challenge. Young and old blend together telling tales that involve hand plows and the iPhone. City mouse meets country mouse in the Grandstand to watch talent like our own local rising stars Jeremy Miller and Zach Paxson and the well documented and ever popular Combine Derby of "Country Crush." The call from the microphone of Dandy Don Humphrey is unmistakable. Royalty, Green Acres, The Food Network and Antique Roadshow are additional images that come to my mind as I anticipate "The Fair". Of course, central is the market created when 4-H projects become tomorrow's dinner. While 4-H draws the ire of some extreme animal rights groups, those of us familiar know that 4-H is the nationás largest youth development organization. In addition to animal care and responsible husbandry for not just livestock, but pets, pocket pals, and companion animals alike, 4-H'ers engage in hands on learning activities in the areas of science, citizenship and healthy living. Head, Heart, Hands and Health remain important core values for today's 4-H youth. Contests, blue ribbons, displays, mingling food aromas, mechanical sounds and amusement music, friends greeting friends and the wails of children after the loss of their balloon bring an extra skip of excitement in the sternest personality. Visit the "Items of Yesteryear" building to witness the magical spell cast over generations of fairgoers. Whichever fare you are drawn to when you "wheel on down", you won't be disappointed. The Ag Society forefathers would be very proud of their modern Board and Ex-Officio members. Even the county fair is a community where people and pets are connected. Only in the American Heartland can The Magic Kingdom and manure come together to form the fabric of our lives.


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