According to the International Association of Fairs and Expositions, the first American agricultural fair took place in Massachusetts in 1811. Our El Paso County (Colorado) Fair began as a modest gathering in 1905; today, it’s one of more than 3,200 annual fairs in North America.

Now as then, county fairs place agrarian life front and center; many competitors are youngsters who participate in rural youth development programs such as 4-H.  Preparing for and competing in livestock, small animal and craft contests is an old-fashioned opportunity to test their mettle and build their character.

For the rest of us, county fairs are a bow to the past and a rebuke to the future, reminding us that virtual reality still can’t hold a candle to the rich sights, sounds, smells and tastes of the breathing, pulsing world all around us.

For those of you who won’t make it to a fair this year, here’s three minutes of unabashed Americana:


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  1. afarawayhome · · Reply

    I love these photos, I can definitely imagine the sounds and smells that go along with them!


    1. Glad you enjoyed the post!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I would give anything to be able to live rurally again…but I’m older and everyone is happier now that I live closer to my family (in a HUGH urban area). Great post…it makes me happy to know that there are human beings hanging on to rural life…and loving the animals that provide them with food 🙂


    1. Glad you enjoyed the post. In one way, county fairs glorify the commodification of animals — not a good thing, in my view. But in another way, they allow young people to know and care for animals in a way many modern youngsters never do. And that is definitely a good thing. 🙂


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