September 13th, 2007

farmer

An Anachronism?

We were talking in the office today about the New Mexico State Fair. Some people really get excited about the Fair. Me? I could care less. I have been a few times always to volunteer for either the Bureau or one of the water conservation agencies. After my time was up I would wander around for a bit and see the sights. There's just nothing there for me! OK. There's a cow. There's a sheep. There's a horse. There's a huge pile of cow shit. What's in this building. Ooooo! Award winning corn! What's in this building? Award winning pies! What does it taste like? Who knows! You're only supposed to look at it.

And then there are the people. Fair goers tend to be gangbangers, wannabes, or folks with lots of missing teeth or body parts. Either that or they have HUGE body parts. You'll see more "God Bless America" and "Support Our Troops" t-shirts than anywhere else.

And then there's the Fair food! Mmmmmm. Good fattening delights! If you can afford it! $3 for a friggin' ear of corn?!? I guess I can't complain too much since I don't bat an eye when I pay $6 for a hot dog at the baseball game. But still! I feel sorry for families when dad/mom has to dish out $50 to feed the kids a bunch of garbage food.

So the gist of the conversation we were having in the office was just how relevant the State Fair still is in our society. One could easily see that 100 years ago it was a big deal since living in rural America meant that you rarely got to town to socialize and entertainment was hard to find. Today we can pack up the kids and go to Great America or Disneyland. Back then the midway was the only place to find games and rides. The side shows and performers were sights to behold! Now we can switch on the tube and see just about anything and everything. There are also concerts and performances taking place all over. And while it is a source of personal pride, having the best zucchini in the state really doesn't mean all that much to the average Joe.

Since the nation has become more urban the state fair has probably gotten less relevant, but in talking with some farmers in rural parts of the state, it still is an important part of life. One farmer who runs an irrigation district will be spending over a week at the fair. This is his annual vacation. He has some livestock in the show, and to him winning a ribbon is a big deal. I know it's a huge deal for 4H kids to have their livestock shown. It could mean some serious $$$ if someone buys their award-winning animal.

So I guess it's like when I went to the rodeo a few weeks ago. Some traditions of the Old West live on. I won't thumb my nose at someone else's form of entertainment because it still might hold some importance to their way of life. It just seems a bit out of place to have such rural-based activities taking place right in the middle of an urban environment. Yes, I know that city kids also have to know where all of that food in the supermarket comes from. It just seems to be a bit of an anachronism to have state fairs like we do which are throwbacks to how they have been for the past x number of years. Perhaps they serve as a link to the past.

But do they have to charge $3 for the corn?!?
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