I was flipping through the TV channels Monday night and landed on the Worthington City Council meeting. Ordinarily I wouldn’t watch (it feels too much like work because I cover county board meetings), but there was an interesting subject being discussed.
It seems the Nobles County Fair Association wants to raise money by allowing dances to be held in the Commercial Building on the fairgrounds.
Fair board member Jim Stefferud said they want to raise funds to make more improvements to the fairgrounds. That sounds wonderful to me. I’m so excited to see the new concrete floor inside the Fine Arts building this year … mostly because I’ve had to push my wheelchair-bound friend through the exhibit building the past couple of years and simply getting into the building was a challenge because of the raised bumps and dips.
Anyway, Jim said the improvements are needed to make the fairgrounds more competitive in its bid to host the regional fair.
This isn’t new information. I heard about it a couple of years ago from one of the county’s 4-H directors. I didn’t like the idea of a regional fair then, and I still don’t like it today.
Too many questions about the regional approach remain, but my biggest concern is for the kids.
If we eliminate county fairs, do we expect our 4-H youth to travel 30- or even 60 miles to be able to show their livestock, their clothing, photography and foods projects? We have kids in our county who already have to drive 35 miles or more to get to the fairgrounds if they live near Ellsworth. Can we really expect them to load up their cattle and haul them to Jackson County or Lyon County?
As a 4-H adult volunteer, I know it isn’t always easy to get participation. Families are busy … busier than they were when I was growing up. Back then, our lives seemed to revolve around 4-H. For many families today, 4-H is squeezed in among so many other activities. Certainly we don’t need to do anything more to discourage involvement in such a leadership-building program.
Some may say a regional fair would guarantee buildings filled with projects, but I think the 4-H kids from Nobles County do a pretty good job of that right now.
In fact, while at the fairgrounds on Tuesday, I heard there were so many beef animals coming to the fair this year that they took a row previously designated for dairy. The trouble is that there are just as many dairy animals coming this year as in the past.
Where they will put all of the animals, I’m not sure. It’s a good problem to have. It shows that not only are the beef and dairy industries strong in Nobles County, but the interest is strong among our 4-H families.
I know that both Jackson and Murray counties have been working to improve their fairgrounds in recent years, I’m sure in large part because they would also like to host the regional fair.
So, if we have all these neighboring counties pouring money into their fairgrounds, what’s going to happen when the selection is made and they didn’t win?
To me, the regional approach sounds like a losing proposition, no matter how you slice it.