All too often I hear my peers uttering “there’s nothing to do in *town name* during the summer.” As a 4-H alumna, this statement has always confused me, for my summer evenings are usually spent preparing for my county fair, enjoying my fair, visiting a different county’s fair, or hanging out with friends associated with fair. Now before you think I’m overly obsessed with fairs, (which I very well may be) know that it is with good reason. County fairs are the highlight of my summer because there is so much to do, see, try, and learn. After a year that saw so many fairs canceled, it’s important now more than ever to support this American pastime and American agriculture in general. Plus, there’s something for every type of person at a fair―from demolition derbies to fair queen pageants, robotics projects to horse costume contests, Ferris wheels to camel rides, and everything in between.

Whether you’ve attended for years or never before, here are six (of many) reasons why you should visit your county fair.

“There’s something that feels so all-American about a county fair.” – Anna Wilkerson

County fairs inherently encompass the most American qualities: appreciation of heritage, ingenuity, and community. Fairs originated as a way for communities to showcase and trade the goods on which community members had diligently worked to perfect. The sheer amount of hard work that goes into every single fair entry is a testimony to the pursuit of excellence that is at the heart of our communities.

The people who spend their time at fairs are some of the most patriotic and good-hearted people I’ve ever met; they support their local community and value it enough to actually take the time out of their day to visit their fair, therefore acting upon this support. There’s a reason the national anthem echoes through the stadium speakers of fairgrounds across America―few places will you find people more committed to hard work, honor, and fellowship.

You’re going to learn something, and you’ll have fun doing so

It’s amazing to see how much work exhibitors put into their projects. What’s even more amazing is how enthusiastic they are to share the knowledge they gained in the process of said projects. And even eight-year-old 4-H’ers can give an excellent (and amusing) explanation of their projects, so don’t shy away from young peoples’ perspectives. Too timid to talk to a stranger? Even if you spend 15 minutes watching a livestock show, you’re sure to learn something from the judge’s commentary.

The food… need I say more?

Honestly, it’s a good thing that most fairs last at least a week if only for the fact that you need enough days to try all the food. And I don’t just mean sugary cotton candy, milkshakes, candied apples, or funnel cakes (though you can certainly snack on them, too). Rather, check out the food sold by local groups (think 4-H Clubs, Granges, fire departments, etc.) and I assure you that you will not be disappointed.

There is always something that you can watch or in which you can participate

Fairs include tractor pulls, demolition derbies, pee-wee showmanship competitions, baked goods auctions, live music, fireworks, hypnotist performances, rodeos, and the list goes on. Visit your county fair’s website, Facebook page, or office to inquire about the schedule of activities and/or how you can enter a project. A county fair is defined by how engaged its visitors and exhibitors are, so they want you to get involved. Plus, the more you watch or participate in events that interest you, the more the fair is able to mold future events to fit the enjoyment of the community.


Take a stroll through the baked goods, quilt, flower, photography, and fruit/vegetable entries and you will be astounded by the exhibitors’ ability to make something prize-worthy out of next to nothing. After admiring every type of project under the sun, you’re sure to find something that interests you and you’re sure to have found the inspiration to learn a new craft or to perfect the skills you already possess. Fairs are my favorite place to find ideas for new projects and ways to upcycle in my life. County fairs are like real-life Pinterest boards that allow you to admire others’ creativity while adapting ideas to better your lifestyle. 

County fairs are full of young kids achieving big, fair queens getting crowned, and blue ribbons being awarded. They are also composed of many years of honest effort and dedication to attain those accomplishments. There’s something to be said for the kid who couldn’t get an Honorable Mention three years ago finally earning a Best of Show title.

It’s an opportunity to give back to your community

You are never too young nor too old to become active in your local fair. By giving back to your fair, you support the local economy and champion your fellow citizens. Whether you decide to volunteer at a booth, enter a project, or simply walk around at your county fair, you are actively bettering your community. Support the young members of FFA and 4-H by bidding on animals or by discussing doing so at your workplace. Congratulate contest winners and consider entering yourself. Have dinner at a local organization’s food booth to contribute to their efforts. You’ll always leave your fair feeling more involved in and valued by your community than when you entered.

Lucy H

Lucy Hutchinson is a proud Pennsylvanian. Her life goals include riding a bison, becoming a physician, visiting all seven continents, and retiring as an old beekeeper. She spends a majority of her time studying, reading, or worrying about not studying or reading. Amidst that worrying, you’re likely to find her gushing about Jane Austen, Israel, sun protection, agriculture, and GMOs.