October 16, 2013

All’s fair and fun at the fair

The Daily Citizen

— On Monday, The Daily Citizen published a story about a farm in the Westside community that has been in the same family since the 1830s. A lot of things have changed on the Freeman Springs Farm during that time, but some things haven’t.

The same could by said of the North Georgia Agricultural Fair that starts in Dalton on Thursday at Scoggins Field off Legion Drive. Now entering its 65th edition, the annual fall event begins a 10-day stint featuring the usual rides, games, wrestling and other live performances, fair food and family fun.

But as its name implies, the fair places an emphasis — a local emphasis — on agriculture and the important place it has in our lives. The fair is about the only place where rural life is honored and celebrated and may well be where most people are exposed to farm life.

In the main exhibition building and nearby barn and halls, fair-goers can visit stalls holding cows, horses, pigs, rabbits and furry-looking chickens, rich with the smell of hay. Visitors can speak with young people who tend the animals. Many of them are farm kids, and some are part of 4-H programs that, among other goals, aim to promote and preserve the farming way of life.

Many of the people who show their animals and other fruits of their labor are working farmers, although some may hold other jobs. So while you may be treated to a show, what they do is not for show — these people are the real deal, hardworking farmers who make all or part of their living off the land by providing sustenance to the community.

But it’s not all farm-related products that are on exhibit. Many area residents have won ribbons over the years for their handiwork, from hand-stitched clothes and quilts to artwork done by students of all ages.

There’s nothing like the sense of pride you feel after finding a ribbon attached to something you created, whether you’re 8 or 80.

Going to the fair has been a part of many lives, a yearly rite of passage that changes as we get older, yet remains the same in many ways.

So whether this will be your first time to attend, or the 65th, you’ll find something new — and old — at the North Georgia Fair.