Could we have had a better opening weekend of the Clay County Fair than the one just passed?
Sunny skies, great crowds, cool evenings with hot acts on the grandstand stage - yep, it was an opening evening practically perfect in every way.
From my view across the counter while working in the Clay County Pork Producer's Chop Shop on Saturday, I got a nice view of a cross section of the fair-goers in attendance. Young, old, big, small, urban, rural, and just about everything else was represented among those craving an Iowa chop, or melt-in-your-mouth pork tenderloin. The one thing they all had in common? A smile. I don't think I encountered a single crabby fairgoer during my five-hour shift. How can you be unhappy on the first day of the fair? Indeed, how dare you?
My first weekend was focused heavily on the west side of the fairgrounds - the cattle barns and show arena; the lemonade stands and foot-long corn dog vendors. I'm trying to pace myself - I've got nine days, after all, and I want to hit all the vendors and see all the commercial exhibits and entertainment areas. I've got a plan for a methodical movement from west to east (and then back again!).
This year's fair will be, it seems, a tale of two seasons.
We enjoyed summer over the weekend and Monday. Temperatures in the mid-80s meant shorts and tee-shirts. And today fall has come in on a pleasant, albeit chilly wave. With little rain in the forecast, I can enjoy a bit of sweatshirt weather with my fair.
While Sunday was a picture-perfect day at the fair, I really appreciated the touches that made us remember where we were 10 years ago.
There was plenty of red, white and blue worn by fairgoers, flags waved in the grandstand, and even in the 4-H arena, we took a moment to remember.
4-H beef judge Noll Ernst addressed the crowd just prior to his selection of champion breeding heifer. I was really touched by the words he spoke and the tone he set with his reminder to us all to give thanks to those who serve to protect us, and to remember in our hearts those who lost their lives on that day in 2001.
Grandma and Grandpa, Darrell and Caroline Noll, of rural Spencer, and Mom Elaine, were in the stands. They should be very proud of Noll, he struck just the right chord on a day of remembrance.