County fairs are steeped in tradition, talent and can-do spirit. The experience is well worth sharing with our children. Some of my favorite childhood memories revolve around the local fair. Some of my favorite children’s books do, too.
I grew up in rural Tennessee. My county had a longstanding tradition of closing school on Fair Day. The fun for me didn’t start on Fair Day, though. It started much earlier as I planned my arts and crafts exhibits. My mother faithfully took me to the frame shop to pick out frames and mats for my best pieces. Then, she or my dad would brave the long lines to help me enter each piece. (My dad jokes to this day about having to wait hours behind every farmer in town who would enter a tomato in his name, his wife’s name and his third-cousin-once-removed’s name. Ditto for cucumbers, green beans and other veggies.)
As soon as the judging was complete, we’d rush in to check for ribbons. At the time, the going premium was $3.00 for a blue ribbon. What wealth! (My parents probably just saw deficits from art lessons, frames and mats.) The true value of the competition had nothing to do with money, though. The true value of the competition came from how it inspired me to do my best throughout the year!
In addition to competitions I participated in, I also gained a deep appreciation for the agricultural industry that our town was built on. I enjoyed roaming through the animal barns and checking to see who grew the biggest pumpkins. (I secretly – or maybe not so secretly – wished we lived on one of the farms so I, too, could enter my own rabbits and cows.) Each of those tomatoes, cucumbers and beans that had created such long entry lines was valuable as were the farmers who grew them.
Because of my wonderful memories, I’ve been inspired to get my children involved in our County Fair as well. This was their first year entering contests. On entry Saturday, they rose early to bake their hearts out. What exuberance when they were rewarded for their efforts with ribbons! (I’m sure my daughter is thankful for how inflation has raised the blue ribbon premium to a whopping $4.00!) They’re already planning next year’s entries in the baking, photography, fine arts, and needle craft divisions.
In addition to going to our local fair, we also enjoy reading about them. Here are a few of my favorite fair books:
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White – From cover to cover, this book is a heartwarming celebration of friendship and agriculture. The central plot question Will Charlotte spider be able to save Wilbur pig from the butcher block? unfolds at the county fair. Wilbur proves he is more than Some Pig. He is, in fact, Radiant.
Farmer Boy (Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder – The fair makes up only a small part of this book, but what an exciting part it is! Readers sit on pins and needles as they wait to find out if Almanzo’s milk-fed pumpkin can bring home the blue ribbon. The rest of the book is a treat, too!
County Fair (My First Little House) by Laura Ingalls Wilder – This delightful picture book makes the story of Almanzo and his pumpkin more accessible to young readers although reader’s of any age will delight in this fun tale with its whimsical illustrations.
How has your family enjoyed the fair? What are your favorite fair books? Please share in the comments.
**This post contains affiliate links to some of my favorite books!
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