By Tiffany Cooke
Community: The Heart of Fair Festivities
What do you think of when you hear about the county fair?
Snow cones. Elephants ears. Unlimited rides. Unbearable heat. Up until this year, these were the only terms that came to mind when I thought about the Washington County Fair. Of course, I always knew that there was more to it than that, but I was seemingly oblivious to all the events, people, and hard work that really define the fair. In all honesty, none of that was too important to me. So, I attended this year with a new perspective and an open mind. For the first time, I wasn't going just to get dizzy on rides, eat my weight in junk food, or spend hours with friends. Instead, I decided to skip the fair bracelet and just take in everything else that there was to see and do. It turns out, I was missing a lot by not doing this before.
Although fair, in general, will always be known for its rides and specialty food, the Washington County Fair brings a whole new word to mind – community. Businesses throughout the county, both big and small, took the opportunity to set up informative and entertaining booths. Although these booths likely served primarily for advertising purposes, they also made a direct effort to interact with the public. They were eager to share information with me and encouraged me to take part in their drawings and games. Not to mention, one booth put a genuine concern into ensuring I had registered to vote, while another initiated conversation with me about my family. These businesses didn't just want to put their name out there. They cared. They were interested in their community members and fellow business and were invested in connecting.
Furthermore, the involvement and attendance visibly showed how this county embraces and stresses the importance of the small town, close-knit community idea. I was reconnected with people I hadn't seen in a while – from past teachers, to old classmates who moved away, and long-time family friends. It was heartening to stand back and watch everyone gather around to watch the carnival perform, pass familiar faces, see proud parents snap photos of their children's 4H projects and livestock trophies, and observe the grand stands fill up to witness yet another wildly exhilarating event. It turns out, when you take the time to really look, there so much more to the annual fair than those few initial stereotypical words that come to mind.
As a newly sanctioned adult, a great part of me is ready to move on and move away, but the strong sense of community makes this county home, and it makes it hard to want to leave. I'd find it hard to believe that I'm the only person who feels like this way.
There is always something going on in Washington County...
Be sure to check back for more insightful stories and information by the Washington County Chamber of Commerce's newest blogger, Tiffany Cooke.