As the Schuylkill County Fair is about to “Harvest the Fun” most people just don’t get it. Although the fair has been “Harvesting the Fun in the community for 32 years,” most people do not understand the significance of a fair. Maybe that is because most of us are several generations removed from the farm and the twenty-four seven day a week commitment or lifestyle that it takes to produce this country food, fiber and fuels. Urban politicians continue to whittle away at funding for county fairs and the Ag programming. Special advocacy groups encourage lawmakers to place more restrictions on the Agricultural practices. Fairs are all about the kids learning real life experiences. These kids will learn life experiences that will prepare them for what is to come in life with skills that will enable them to handle each and every situation that comes along.
It is unfortunate that urban children have much less opportunity to connect with real life. They look at some farm kid working on his show steer every day for months. It is beyond their comprehension. “Why”, they ask, ‘Would anyone want to waste their time in such a mindless pursuit?’ and then they whip out their Game Boy, MP3 Player or cell phone and fall into a trance. My own son even asked me the question, “Why do you care
about the Fair and put so much work into it. My response was that fairs showcase the backbone of what this country is made of.
Thank goodness there are some politicians, corporations and influential associations that DO get it. As farmers and livestock raisers continue to decline in numbers, it is even more critical that parents, county agents, Ag teachers, 4-H leaders, scientists and teachers instill in the next generations the realities of life that farming depends on. Does America want to become a next importer of food in fifty years?
I appreciate Mrs. Obama’s garden, Whole Foods specialty markets, organic and natural producers. They have a niche market. But who is going to feed the other 99% of the population, much less a hungry third world? The world population is predicted to triple by 2020. If the hard work ethics of Agriculture are not instilled into this generation to come then world hunger will be seen as an epidemic of major proportion.
Those kids, who are fitting steers, doing chores, picking apples, showing hogs, driving the grain truck, learning to weld, rigging pens, irrigating strawberries, managing a pasture, hosing the milk room, stacking hay and learning to read the sky are assimilating the mountain of knowledge that it takes to make dirt and rain into food.
Farm kids start learning the land and the livestock when they are old enough to carry a bucket. When they help with the daily chores they are practicing. It’s like taking piano lessons or tennis lessons except what farm kids learn has a much more profound objective; feeding, clothing and fueling us all.
Our culture expends a great deal of effort on future NBA stars, astronauts, environmental lawyers, doctors, and political science majors. But for every 100 rock stars, Rhoades Scholars and Heisman trophy winners our country produces, we better make sure we spend enough to train at least two future farmers, so the rest of them can eat. That is the essence of the county fair. The kids learning and preparing for the future through agriculture.
Beneath all the fun, auctions, and show ribbons, the serious business of learning how to make a living off the land continues like an underground river.
The list of ‘essential professions’ is a short one. That’s the reality of real life. Farm kids hold our future in their hands. They are in training to feed the world. And fair board members and county agents get it. Take a moment to thank the people who bring the Schuylkill County Fair, July 27 through August 1, to the County of Schuylkill every year. They get it. They understand that if we do not help these kids “Harvest the Fun” out of what they do, then we do not have a foundation for our future. Support the fair board directors as they strive to educate the general public about the significance of Agriculture and its impact on our Daily Lives. Show your support for the Schuylkill County Fair by attending July 27 through August 1. For the latest information about the Schuylkill County Fair visit our website www.schuylkillfair.com or like us o Facebook follow us on Twitter.
Kim A. Morgan
FARM/Schuylkill County Fair