Fairs are synonymous with summer

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Barry County Fair was a big success this past weekend, and I was one of the many spectators who enjoyed the annual event. The fair attracted hundreds of youngsters from across the county as well as neighboring counties. The fair was also attended by families and others who enjoy watching young people get the chance to show off the cattle, goats, sheeps, hogs and chickens they've lovingly cared for in preparation for the summer show season. Many of the kids who participated in the Barry County Fair are members of local FFA chapters or 4-H groups, and let me tell you, these kids are the cream of the crop.

As I walked around the fair on Saturday, I quickly realized I was dealing with well mannered, extremely polite young people. In other words, they've been brought up well. When I approached a young man or young woman to ask if I could take their photograph and then proceeded to ask them about the animal they were showing, each and every one looked me in the eye, was well spoken and didn't roll their eyes when this city girl asked one of my dumb ag questions. I was extremely impressed with the caliber of those involved in the fair -- from the youthful exhibitors to the adult organizers.

As I made my rounds around Gizmo's Event Center in Wheaton, where the fair was held, I had a hard time believing it was an event that almost didn't happen. Earlier this year, the Cassville Democrat reported that the future of the fair was in jeopardy. At the time, Fair Committee President Ernest Ray appealed for more help and more support. In response, another fair meeting was held, and the turnout was strong. Planning for the 2011 fair moved head, and the end results of all that hard work and effort were on display this past weekend.

County fairs are events worth saving. They are a hallmark of summer and rural America, and county fairs provide young people with another outlet for their time, talent and energy. As plans for the 2012 Barry County Fair begin in the coming months, we hope the event will merit the support of area businesses and individuals that it deserves. Those who serve on the Fair Board have worked hard to ensure that the organization leading the event is solid and well organized.

This week, we'd like to applaud the members of the 2011 Barry County Fair Committee who include: Ray; Tina and Tom Autrey, vice presidents; Sherri Sanders, secretary; Kelly Mills, treasurer; Janet DeShazer, reporter; and Bobbie Jo Meeks, Dave Harris, Suzan Harris, Keith Parker, Mark Moller, Randy Steward, Chad Yarnall and Kori Catlett, board members. Good job - we're already looking forward to next year's fair.

~ Lisa Schlichtman