County Fair Season is Upon Us

Friday, May 29, 2019
By Jenny Jackson
District 10
Young Leader Committee Member

The weather is starting to warm up, crops are patiently waiting to get in the ground and county fair papers are about to hit mailboxes. That’s right – it’s almost county fair season. Can you believe it?

For many of us, growing up in a rural community meant the county fair was the highlight of our summer. This was our opportunity to show-off those skills we learned in 4-H by entering projects, showing livestock and working at the food stand. It also meant that we would spend an entire week hanging out with other rural youth who we maybe didn’t get to see but in the summer months. Some of my best youthful memories took place at the Morgan County Fair.

As we transition to Young Leaders, or even Farm Bureau board members, I ask that you remember those youthful times and challenge yourselves to give back. Find somewhere to volunteer your time. Whether it be helping with youth activities, taking tickets at the gate, or judging projects, it takes an army to make these events successful.

Fair week is also a great chance for Young Leader groups to get in front of youth and expose them to our great organization. Consider putting together a game or hands-on event just for kids, to help them kill time while waiting in the barns. It’s usually hot and muggy during Illinois county fairs, so perhaps you provide snow cones to all the exhibitors. One of my favorite memories is the annual water balloon fight at the end of fair week. I’d be happy to spend some time filling balloons to keep the tradition going!

These youth exhibitors are the future of the agriculture industry and the future of our organization. Just a few minutes of your time can impact these skillful participants and encourage them to pursue agriculture as a career. With the recent census data confirming the decline in U.S. farmers, it is more important now than ever to inspire the next generation to continue our legacy. So, this summer, I ask you to spend a few hours of your time at your local county fair giving back to those who gave so much for us.