No time like fair time
By Jessica Coleman
There are many important milestones in a young Jackson County reporter's career: the first time they send a typo to print, the first time they correctly spell "Brzozowski" unassisted, and their first Jackson County Youth Fair.
My first fair as a reporter was in 2015, and I'll never forget it. It was magical. Now, eight years later, it's still my longest and hardest work week, and also my favorite. Livestock show Wednesday is reliably an 11 to 13 hour work day, but with an ibuprofen or two and a good, broken-in pair of boots, it's not too physically painful.
Aches and pains aside, though, a rural county fair has an atmosphere that you just cannot find anywhere else. There's a sense of community that is unmatched. It is a time when the whole county comes together just to make each other's lives better.
Buyers support kids who have worked for weeks and months to raise animals. Judges and many others volunteer their time. The Hospital District, Southbrooke Manor, and the Law Enforcement Association come together for a luncheon for seniors, complete with bingo, and Lord help anyone who comes between these senior citizens and Bingo. I was honored to be invited to sing for the event, along with several other performers and let me tell you, after a while they let us know it was Bingo time. It was beautiful and hilarious, and I had a blast.
The Little Wrangler Rodeo, the family department competitions, the Friends of the Fair show, and of course the carnival, all make sure that there is something for everyone. I might never walk right again after that mechanical bull ride, but my children seemed pretty impressed, so it's worth it.
Speaking of Brzozowski (check out that spelling!), those same children tell me that Pat's egg sandwiches at the St. Agnes window are the best they've ever had (I guess I'll stick to pancakes for breakfast around the house for a while, to soothe my slightly-bruised ego).
Making the fair happen is a lot of work, for a lot of people, but the fair truly does bring out the best of everyone in our small community.
As I sit here on Sunday evening, I am both glad the week is over, and sad that it is gone. It was my entire life for a whole week, and it almost feels like stepping out of the looking glass, back into reality.
I guess it's a good thing that reality around here ain't so bad, either. I love you, Jackson County, so, so much. Thank you for letting me cover your events for all these years. I hope to do so for years to come.