This year marks the 129th Harvey County Free Fair. Fairs have held for many more years, dating back to the late 1700’s in America. Hundreds of years later, we are still hosting a county fair every year. Some people might ask, has the fair outlived its original purpose?
The International Association of Fairs and Expos states that the core values demonstrated at the earliest fairs brought together by Agricultural Societies in the 1800’s were “competition for the best agricultural and domestic products of the county and/or community (or region or state), an annual celebrate for the community to come together, to share, to learn.” As a 4-H Extension Agent, I am able to plan, observe and participate in many fairs firsthand. I do not believe that agricultural fairs have outlived the original purpose of gathering community members and showcasing the best agricultural and domestic products.
Each year here in Harvey County, farm families come together at the fair after a long, hot, busy summer working on the farm. The fair also attracts an urban crowd who also participate and see the exhibits and enjoy the events. Year after year, the people of Harvey County come together for four days of competition, celebration, and education.
Things have changed since the first agricultural fairs were held in the late 1700’s. Carnivals, concerts, demo derbys, rodeos, and food vendors can now be expected at any fair. With so much more being offered than livestock shows and domestic arts exhibits, people from all walks of life are attracted to the fair each year. The Harvey County fair is a place to reunite with friends, look at exhibits and entertainment, and leave your diet behind. While the original agricultural attractions remain their back bone, fairs are continuing to offer new and exciting attractions.