By Tiffany Cooke
What’s summer without a little fair fun?
Every year, the Washington County Fairgrounds hosts the Farmers and Merchants Fair. This year, from June 14 to June 22, the small county fair is full of action, providing over a week of scheduled activities, performances and competitions, 4-H shows and creations, and of course – carnival food and rides.
The Washington County Fair is an opportunity for family and friends of all ages to get together to talk, walk, and see. At the fair, there are farm animals awaiting their awards, local business vendors with freebies or games, and displays of crafts, quilts, photos, and vegetables from competing 4-H and community members.
For those seeking the typical carnival experience, Brady’s Amusement sets up rides for thrill seeking adults and children. Stationed around the rides, food vendors sell lemon shake-ups and an assortment of fried foods and sweets to fulfill the carnival goers’ palate.
Carly Morris, a now young adult, grew up in 4-H and was heavily involved in fair activities with her animals. This year, too old to be a part of 4-H, she found a new way to be involved.
This week – fair week, as many call it – has long been an important part of her summer.
“I remember thinking about which animals I was going to show and would start working with those animals months in advance to make sure they would be ready for the show ring,” Morris said.
Her animals, goats and poultry, kept her at fair from morning until night. She was dedicated – waking up early to take care of them and staying until everything shut down to make sure everything was in order and cared for.
“I remember being so excited the morning that I would be showing,” Morris said. “I’d spend the whole week before fair researching and studying so I’d know everything I could about showmanship.”
Her animals weren’t the only thing that kept her busy for the week, though. Friends would stay with her to keep her company, but also to drag her away from the barns to see the rest of the fair, looking at other animals and riding rides together.
Morris was involved in 4-H for seven years, and her involvement in showing and competing at fair impacted her beyond the ring. She learned skills from this experience that she still applies to her life today, Morris says.
Even though Morris was too old to be a part of 4-H this year, she didn’t let that stop her from being involved in the fair. This year, she traded in her boots and jeans for a dress and tiara and partook in the Miss Washington County Fair Queen contest.
Much like showing with 4-H, Morris had to prepare weeks in advance, and felt the similar rush of excitement on the stage that she did when she was in the show ring.
“I wanted to be able to have a chance to represent the county that has given so much to me and others,” Morris said.
She didn’t win the crown, but enjoyed the different experience. She liked that she learned new skills, similar and different than those she’d gotten from 4-H showing, that can help her succeed later in life.
While the Washington County Farmers and Merchants Fair means something different to each person, Morris has experienced much of what it has to offer. To her, fair isn’t just about fun, it’s about being involved in and representing the community
“Every year I impatiently waited for fair week,” Morris said.
Even though for the first time in seven years she wasn’t showing animals with 4-H, this year was no exception. She reconnected with old memories while making new, taking is as much as she could of the county fair experience.