Not about to praise 4-H/FFA kids for 'Ag Swag'
Thursday, July 18, 2013 8:59 AM
It's Winneshiek County fair week, and as your local newspaper editor, it's my responsibility to come up with a new, fresh angle on why everyone should support the annual event. But I'm not going to. So there.
Besides, over the past 27 years I've written on just about everything the popular fair has to offer, as well as a few things that aren't quite so obvious. So what's the point? Hasn't it all been said and written about before?
I mean, I could go on and on about the unique and delicious fair food that, for the most part, is served just once a year, but that's been done to death. Sure the prices are reasonable and there's no question many needed and appreciated county organizations benefit from the sale of their palatable offerings, but I've waxed pathetic about that countless times.
While I agree a delicious milkshake from the dairy producers can really hit the spot on a hot, muggy fair afternoon, and who in their right mind could pass up a pile of perfectly cooked beef nuggets, a juicy cheeseburger or a rib eye sandwich served by the Cattlemen's Association, or resist the urge to chow down on a sent-from-heaven "pork chop on a stick" (thank you, pork people), but isn't that all rather passé? Aren't these culinary delights all-too obvious for veteran fair-goers -- as in been there, done that?
It would be totally appropriate to mention all the other tasty offerings at the fair, from pizza and hot dogs to walking tacos and the endless menu presented by the Luren Singers - yummmmy pie - but I've done that so many times I'd make myself sick if I did it again, so I'll resist the temptation.
As usual the grandstand entertainment is versatile and exciting, but that's nothing new, so why bring it up? The Fair Board always does a great job of lining up top-notch, county-fair-type attractions, and this year is certainly no exception with the band Little Texas, stock car races, truck and tractor pull and the wild and wooly bull riding and barrel racing. I mean, having fun in the grandstand is a given so you don't need me to remind you.
And while we're on the subject, I suppose it would be nice to praise the countless fair volunteers who work so hard to make it all happen, but they're just doing it for the glory, notoriety and money, aren't they?
Oh wait, most of them work quietly behind the scenes, content to just do their part to make sure the best little fair in Iowa remains that way, but the money they're paid certainly makes it worth their while ... or not. Fair volunteers receive absolutely no monetary compensation for their tireless efforts, so skip over that last part.
Apparently they're just doing it out of the goodness of their heart, in the spirit of giving something back to Winneshiek County and its residents, so that should be reward enough for those do-gooders. I'm certainly not going to toot their horn for them. If you want to tell them thank you when you see them scurrying about, be my guest, but I'm not using this space to do it.
The annual fair queen contest is probably archaic, or even silly, to most "metro" people who just don't appreciate the type of quality, beautiful and intelligent young women we raise in this neck of the woods, so I'll be damned if I'm going to spend time trying to convince them of the contest's worth. If they can't see the value in choosing a fair queen, they need to go back to the big city. I refuse to write about it any more. Nuff said.
The plethora of cooking contests are always a major attraction at the fair, and some of the items they bring to the competition are beyond mouth-watering, but I've written about these Paula Deen wannabes (oops, sorry about that) until there are no more adjectives remaining to describe their indescribable country cuisine, so there's really nothing to be gained by trying - in vain, probably - to top what I've already stated a thousand times before.
I could go on and on about the countless other fair attractions and highlights, but you've heard or read about it all before from folks who can describe it much better than I, so I won't waste your valuable time trying.
However, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the hundreds of young people who take part in the many 4-H and FFA contests - from arts and crafts to livestock. Yes, I understand the thousands of hours they spend getting their fair entries ready, and all of them should be extremely proud of their efforts and dedication, but I've described their "Ag Swag" in minute detail for decades, so I'm not about to do it again.
It's undeniably true these remarkable young adults make all of us proud, and are even reassuring that the future of Winneshiek County will be in capable hands, but I'm not their personal publicity agent so you won't read any more about "Ag Swag" from this reporter.
On that note, I encourage everyone to support the fair and have a great time. I could call it the best county fair in the entire Midwest, but I'm not about to.