Youth is the magic ingredient that makes fairs successful. Older folks organize, guide and offer wisdom, but young people give fairs the extra spark that carries them through the decades. Or in the case of the Platte County Fair, which dates to Civil War times, centuries.
The fair runs through Saturday at the Fairgrounds in Tracy. On Monday, all was quiet except in the Mack Myers Building that houses the 4-H exhibits. There, voices of youngsters created an ongoing din, loud but not unpleasant. Moms, dads and volunteers scurried about keeping order as projects were judged.
I helped a crew judge photographs. I’m picky about pictures since they’re part of my profession.
I can tire quickly of looking at bad or mediocre photographs. But I never tire of looking at or talking about the photos taken by the 4-H kids. They bring a spark of wonder and newness to their efforts. It’s rather amazing to hear a grade-school-aged youngster talk about composition and lighting in a photo. And perhaps they liked it because their dog stayed still and they snapped their pet’s pic sitting alongside their brother.
One young man showed me such a photo and explained the merits. He got a blue ribbon and the photo is headed on to the Missouri State Fair in Sedalia.
But this photo will also wind up in a family album. His brother will grow up. So will he. After a few decades, the dog will go to the sad places where our childhood pets go. Years will pass and he’ll open a photo album or maybe a keepsake box, and there the picture will be, reminding him of a time and place and people and things he’s loved.
He’ll remember the fair.
Maybe he’ll take his own kid to the fair; life goes round like the Ferris Wheel.
I’ll wager that a boy so young who can explain a photograph will grow up to be a good man. And he’s shown a capacity to learn and be positive.
So grateful we should be for such positives here in the Heartland of America.
A well-written feature story that ran in recent days in The Kansas City Star told of how ISIS fighters in the Middle East were training young boys to kill and be suicide bombers. Many such boys had been abducted from families in areas overrun by ISIS. They were being beaten, brainwashed and led down a horrible path.
That seems so far away. But I think we take it for granted sometimes at how lucky we are. We live in a place where kids are being taught how to take beautiful photographs. Thank goodness for the people who teach and support them.
Back to our venerable old fair, it would have withered away long ago if young people did not embrace.
Floral Hall’s inner doors were closed, I think judging or arranging of exhibits was going on there on Monday. But three young women stood near the main door. They were talking about motherhood. One is expecting a child.
The circles go round.
Do not miss in Floral Hall the wonderful historic Platte County photos collected, printed and exhibited by native son Keith Myers. The old timers enjoy them, but it will be young people enchanted by them who will carry this legacy forward into the fair’s next century.
The carnival is in place and will be whirling and twirling when you read this. On Monday, it was eerily quiet.
Young people make a carnival go round.
Snack sales would be down without kids. Many a parent, if they were by themselves, would walk on by the fresh-squeezed lemonade, or the big basket of greasy curly fries, or perhaps the cotton candy. But when kids are asking, the little voice that says “go ahead, indulge,” gets louder.
The main arena seemed very muddy on Monday.
Since it seems to rain almost daily, it’s no wonder. Maybe this will be the mudathon-every-night Fair unless the pattern changes. Us old folks worry about such things. Young people in their teens and 20s won’t care. They’ll be there.
Youth refuels everything in this world, including our fair.
Bill Graham, who lives in the Platte City area with his family, may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.