Sunday, September 2, 2018

Country Fun

We've just had the season of agricultural fairs. These were once economically important events, where farmers would sell preserved produce and livestock, women would sell textile art, and equipment vendors would be there as well. Social bonds among neighbors would be renewed, and of course there were competitions. Getting the prize for best hog or whatever would likely be worth a premium price for stud.

Many of these of course are still happening but their character is very different. Agriculture is now of much less economic importance and the country fairs play no significant role in marketing. What with automobiles and telephones we don't need the occasion of the fair to keep up connections. The fairs are now full of carnival attractions: scam games, fried dough, thrill rides. The old agricultural competitions still happen, of course, but 99.9% of the attendees have never set foot on a farm, so it's all just exotic entertainment. Still, there is some real connection to the past in going into a tent full of goats or dairy cows and smelling the sawdust and excrement; or seeing the shelves of home-canned peaches and tomatoes; or watching the ox-pulling contest.

Other somewhat similar events are a regular part of the rural economy for three seasons. We have a vineyard here that just held an artisans' fair, with music and wine tasting. That gets people to the winery and they can sell some bottles. Just because of the name of the town, we also have an annual Scottish games festival where they throw the telephone pole and eat haggis. We also have a "farm days" festival in the spring, so as not to compete with the bigger county fairs. So it's not like the big city, but stuff does happen here.

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