published Thursday, September 27th, 2012

Something for all at county fair

Though county fairs are rooted in the nation's agrarian history, the modern incarnation of the traditional event has survived the nation's shift from a rural to urban society. The fairs are as popular and as entertaining now as they were decades ago. The Hamilton County Fair, scheduled Saturday and Sunday at Chester Frost Park, is an example of the old made new. The fair remains common ground for those who live in the heart of the city, for those who reside in the suburbs and for those who live on farms and in the rural areas that still are part of the county's landscape.

The fair has become a highly anticipated community event. Tens of thousands annually flock to the fair at the public park. They gather there to be entertained, to be informed, to celebrate the change of seasons, to note the bounty of the land and to marvel at the myriad interests and skills of county residents. There will be, as usual, crafts and arts -- displayed by 70 vendors this year -- to see and buy, demonstrations and talent shows to watch, livestock to examine and treats to eat. It's old-time entertainment in a modern setting.

Home-centered events are at the heart of any county fair. Competition featuring in the words of one official anything that is "made, baked, sewn or grown" is a well-established routine. That's especially true at Chester Frost Park.

Young contestants can show off livestock, poultry and rabbits. They can exhibit lovingly cultivated flowers, and hand-made clothing and crafts. There's competition, as well, in what is called, tantalizingly, the baked goods category. If the past is an indication of what fairgoers can expect this year, there will be tables filled with pies, candy, breads, cakes, cookies and more. Blue ribbons, the competitive staple of county fairs, and, in some instances, cash prizes are at stake. Competition promises to be fierce.

In addition to the exhibits and competitions, there will be almost continuous performances on the fair's three stages. A petting zoo, bungee jump, model train exhibit and layout, an antique car and tractor show, Zumba class and a dog-sledding exhibition are scheduled as well.

There is, safe to say, something for just about everyone at the fair. Admission is free (there is a fee to ride shuttle buses from Northgate Mall or Middle Valley Recreation Center since there is no parking on fair grounds) and the fair is bound to be fun. It probably will be crowded, too, but that should not be a deterrent. The hustle and bustle just contributes to the celebratory air of the early autumn outing.

The Hamilton County Fair is a celebration of our and the region's heritage that almost perfectly weaves together learning with wholesome and timeless entertainment. The fair, however measured, is a splendid way to spend part of the weekend with family, friends and neighbors.

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