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Editorial: Get ready for the county fair

An early Labor Day and a late Thanksgiving, combined with a cooler-than-usual summer and it’s easy to get confused where we are with the calendar.

Is it really summer? Some days it’s hard to tell.

So mark your calendar for Thursday through Sunday. That way you won’t miss the Franklin County Fair.

For fans of this long-standing tradition — this marks the 166th year — the fair is one of the highlights of life here in the county. Those attending will get a chance to see events such as the agricultural and animal exhibits, the blue-ribbon winners on display in the Roundhouse, the competitions like the oxen pull, that have informed and entertained many generations.

It’s appropriate that this year’s theme is “A Timeless Tradition.”

This isn’t to say that the fair’s organizers don’t find new ways at regular intervals to entertain or provide more for the price of admission.

Robinson’s Racing Pigs, Flying High Frisbee Dogs, Franklin County Got Talent, Stoney Roberts Demolition Derby may not have been around since the fair got started, but they have certainly become ingrained in fair-goers’ enjoyment.

Of course, the acts and events are just part of the entertainment. The rides and games of the Midway, too, are part of the experience, just as enjoying the food — the fair fare — is one of the reasons people keep coming back.

Fifty years ago, the then-Recorder-Gazette editorialized about the Franklin County Fair and why, after 117 years, it remained an important and popular part of community life. “In whatever lasts a century there must be merit,” wrote the editor. “This includes not only old houses, public buildings, symphony orchestras, men and women, but also county fairs ... once again the multitudes will pour forth to see what it’s all about.”

In 1964, “what it’s all about” included the fair’s first “Youth Day,” where all the area schools were closed and the day’s program of events included a high school track meet as well as massed bands.

“Along with a “clean, friendly and lively atmosphere created by patrons and personnel ... A fair must also be light-hearted, fresh opulent and gay. It is not always easy to keep it so.

“But the ones that have survived across the nation invariably flourish because they have retained all of the fun along with the serious side of agricultural displays.”

We think people, young and old, will find that true of the fair today, beginning with the parade along Federal and Main streets through to closing on Sunday evening.

Make it a point to join in this year’s fun.

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