County fairs have been around a long time. Perhaps they began as a way to celebrate the end of the summer harvest. Whatever the reason, I can imagine how people must have looked forward to county fair.
For one thing, the fair had something for everyone, young and old alike. Kids got to spend time with friends, fill up on treats, take part in contests and perhaps even get to go on a carnival ride. Neighbors got to visit, which was a big deal because they probably didn’t see one another all that much. There was friendly competition, too, with blue-ribbon prizes.
I imagine that men probably showed off some of their livestock. Women entered jars of home-canned produce, probably from their own orchards or gardens, and pies, also probably from homegrown crops. There were needlework entries, too, probably done during long winter months. People were proud of what they entered.
There was a positive spirit that surrounded the county fair, and it’s still there today.
In the times that I’ve volunteered to help with the Moffat County Fair, I’ve enjoyed listening to neighbors as they meet up on exhibit day. As with earlier days, some of these neighbors haven’t seen one another in a while. They talk about everything from the weather and the year’s crops and livestock prices to politics. Women share their experiences with the year’s jelly making and which garden crops did best during the summer.
And I’ve thought, “This is what the fair is all about.”
This week I talked to Carol Weber, of Maybell, and Susan Domer, of Craig. Both women have participated in the Moffat County Fair, and I wanted to know their thoughts about the county fair.
“It’s just so much fun to go and see what’s there and who is there,” Weber said.
Weber enters lots of items in the fair each year, but she explained that she didn’t always.
“I was a 4-H leader for about 25 years in the Arkansas Valley with my children,” she explained. “When we moved to the Yampa Valley, I was a leader in Hayden for five years, and then when we moved to Maybell/Sunbeam, I took the 4-H leadership over for about three years. Throughout all of those years, I didn’t have time to enter anything in the fair. Then my wonderful husband built me a greenhouse, and I grew stuff and entered it in the fair.”
Weber said she enters mostly garden items and flowers, some limited craft stuff and even some jams, but she put the wrong labels on the jars, so that “didn’t work out.”
However, last year she entered a stained glass horse head that did “work out.” Weber said she took the stained glass class at the college and then used her skills to make a horse head. It wasn’t just any horse head. Her husband lost Cricket, his saddle horse of 31 years. So Cricket went to the fair and won Grand Champion.
“It was a wonderful thing,” Weber said.
I’ve heard talk about young people not having the desire or time to learn homemaking skills that were so necessary years ago. However, Susan Domer has a different “take” on this thought.
Domer is the superintendent of knitting and crocheting at the Moffat County Fair. She’s also the 4-H leader for knitting and crocheting this year. She meets with the Wednesday Night Knitters at the Extension Office, where people of all ages, levels and expertise go to knit and visit.
“I think there’s a real interest among people in town, not just we old ladies, but among younger people, too, to learn to crochet and knit,” she said.
Domer added that she had been talking about the fair and the brand-new rag contest during this past Wednesday’s knitting night, and attendees were excited about the fair.
It’s all about the positive spirit surrounding the county fair.