The Knox County Fair

Knox County Fair featuring 4-H Cattle, 1947
According to Larry Hall, the 4-H agent with Knox County's OSU Extension,"Of course, in a traditional setting in a rural community like Knox County, the County Fair is big stuff."

The Knox County Fair is an event of major significance to families, towns, and organizations. While it may well represent different things to different people, most agree that it is an important yearly event, highlighting the achievements of community members of all ages, both farmers and non-farmers alike. Typically held during a week in late July, the fair sponsors and organizers regularly promise that it will be the "biggest and best ever,"a reflection of their interest in making it a distinctive occasion. Yet, while workers strive to make the fair bigger and better than the previous year, many structural similarities give the event the feel of familiarity to those who attend.

Exhibitions and competitions frequently appeal to the masses of entry participants, often attracting creative talents from a variety of fields. Quite a number of fair exhibits reflect the talents of agricultural producers, allowing them the opportunities to display the fruits of their labor: home grown tomatoes, hogs, sheep, steers, rabbits, goats, and flowers. In addition, equine shows, draft horse halter classes, pony and tractor pulls give farmers unique opportunities to show off their skills. For those with other interests, photography and cooking competitions are also held and widely enjoyed.

Knox County Fair, 1958 Project ideas are developed by participants long before they are publicly viewed. They are encouraged, expanded and supported by organizations like 4-H, FFA, the Grange, church groups and by the participants' families. Cooperation between these resources for fair preparation reflects the pronounced commitment to achievement found within Knox County. In addition, because the participants and organizers know eachother by virtue of living in small communities, they often work together. The varied situations they encounter and their ability to work cooperatively reflect the functional diffuseness of the community, a key ingredient of a tight-knit citizenry. Moreover, just as the abundance of family farms in Knox County influence rural life, so too does farming influence the fair. And while family farming can hardly be separated from the commitment to values held in a rural community, the significance of an event like the County Fair can hardly be overstated. As a cultural institution, it gives farmers and rural residents a context for identity. Thus, the meaning of the fair to it's participants and visitors is one of true appreciation.

photos courtesy Ohio State University Agricultural Extension--Knox County

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