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On Monday the communities in the area  will come together for the 2010 Perkins County Fair. 

I don’t know the history of the event, like when or how it got started, but I do have my own personal history of it. 

I remember what it was like when I was a little girl and Mom and Dad took us to the fair. It was magical. The lights, the rides, the games, the food. 

Then, when I was a preteen, oh boy, it was the highlight of the summer. Going to the Perkins County Fair was a big deal—I could run around with my cousin Carolyn and eat and ride and socialize as much as I wanted.

Becoming a high schooler meant having even more freedom and being able to attend the fair more than just one designated night. It even meant driving! 

It was fun connecting with friends I hadn’t seen all summer—because being a farm kid back then didn’t provide much opportunity to socialize. Especially in the evening. We worked alongside our farmer parents, and after a long hot summer day, it was inconceivable to ask to go somewhere during a weeknight. We weren’t a multi-car family like nowadays, and teens didn’t go to town a hundred times a week for various activities. We were thrilled if we got the car on a weekend! 

I moved to the city at the age of 17, a month after graduating. It was dubbed a cow town, but believe me, in 1969 Denver was not what I perceived as a cow town. I loved it; I hated it; I yearned for rural life; I got caught up in city living. You can’t have both. 

Years later I became a mom. Bringing my kids home to the Perkins County Fair was one of the most important things on the summer agenda. 

By then, of course, the magic had faded. The carnival was practically non-existent except for a couple rickety things I didn’t feel comfortable letting my kids ride. The fairway was pretty much defunct except for a game or two. 

The 4-H’ers still worked hard and the food was still out of this world. 

My kids had the time of their life—THAT’S what counted. They got to experience the freedom and ambiance of a county fair where everyone stops to chat, interested in your job and your life and your kids. It was a time to reconnect with “home.” 

Then we moved back, returning to my roots. The kids got to “live” at the fairgrounds during fair week. They broke the bank on food and games. They got to be in the parade as 4-H’ers, they helped design a float and a booth and helped with the barbecue. They became ingrained in small town summer life at the  county fair. 

They both live in the city now, but they could tell you in detail the highlights of their memories of the Perkins County Fair as children  and teens. 

Let’s not let that die. Let’s do our utmost to carry on the traditions started so many years ago before there were so many other distractions. Going to the county fair was the highlight of the summer. Now, it’s just another event squeezed in with a plethora of choices for families during the summer. 

Because it became a lesser priority, it diminished to the point of near extinction. 

There are a bunch of folk who refuse to let that happen. It takes time, it takes money, it takes ideas, it takes determination. Those are the qualities that our fair board members possess and they have kept the Perkins County Fair alive. 

You, a resident of Perkins County, have an obligation to do your part in assuring that the smells, the tastes and the magical moments and enchanting experience will be there to pass along to the next generation.

It has withered, but it has not died. It keeps blooming every summer despite some rough times. It strives to improve. So take part in helping the fair grow. 

Take some time out of your busy schedule to enjoy some socialization, eat one of the greatest burgers on earth, and watch the little ones dart around excitedly. 

Regardless of the size of the crowd, the fair board and all of the 4-H’ers and clubs or organizations have already gone to the same amount of preparatory work to make it nice. 

They deserve a big thanks for investing hours and hours of their time in carrying on a heartfelt tradition in rural America. They deserve the public’s participation.     

Trust me, the short amount of time you put into attending the Perkins County Fair this summer will last a lifetime for the little people who get to experience it. Take that thought and invest it in our community.

Jan Rahn