The Warren County Fair is a tradition with our family. We were there for the early years. Our first involvement was through the Ackley Grange. We helped with the fair exhibit sponsored by the local grange. The night we put the exhibit up was fine, but by the time we had to take it down it was another story. That night was stormy. There was water standing everywhere with mud up to the top of your shoes. We retrieved everything, but it was not a pretty sight.
Next came the nieces and nephews as they became old enough to participate in 4-H. We attended their shows to cheer them on. My sister-in-law camped at the fair. Her camper was in the area known as Hickory Grove. Her camper was home base. We took food so that we would all be able to picnic at the fair.
Finally our children were old enough for 4-H. They joined the dairy 4-H with their cousins. That meant many meetings prior to the fair plus many nights of training the animal that was the fair exhibit. Of course, Todd was first since he was the oldest. We have movies of him washing his calf and loading it on the truck to go to the fair. The following year Jill took her calf. She was lucky enough to win a blanket for her animal that first year.
Ann R. Swanson
The fair still had a lot of mud at that point. If it rained at the beginning of the week, you wore boots the rest of the week. The fair has made many improvements. Blacktopped walkways have made a huge difference. Now the fair can weather some pretty big storms without it interrupting things. People just pop up an umbrella and go.
As a former city girl, I was not accustomed to working with the animals; that all came through the children's involvement in the fair. Since my husband was at home milking the cows, I was in charge of the children and the animals at the fair. I chaperoned the barn the night before the show. We slept up in the lofts in the barn. There was no indoor plumbing in those days. A trip to the bathroom at night meant a trip to the outhouse on the hill with a flashlight.
If you have never watched the dairy show, do stop in to see what goes on. The people involved and those seated around you will be happy to share with you what is going on. First the children are judged on their skills, then, the animals are judged.
Dairy is only one aspect of the animal shows. Each animal has at least one show. They are all interesting to watch, and it is a nice break from the midway for families. In the 4-H complex where the meat animals are housed, you find children preparing to sell their animals at the Friday livestock sale. That is a sad event for those youngsters, even though they do pretty well economically.
Finally we come to the year that our daughter was the Warren County Dairy Princess. Besides the shows, she had many other responsibilities. Since she had to be there every day I found other places to help. I helped take in exhibits and with the judging. I also worked gates and the ice cream booth.
The next year our daughter was selected as the first fair queen. She was working at the time, but her bosses agreed to let her leave early some days and not work at all during the big shows. She was busy that year, but it was a wonderful experience for her.
That was the year that I joined the fair board. I was appointed to work on the publicity committee. We were responsible for all of the press releases. I had access to the farm papers, so that was an additional market in which the fair could be promoted.
When my cohort decided that she was through being on the board, all of the advertising and publicity came to me. I streamlined the job as much as possible. By the time the fair arrived, my job was done except for seeing that the on-the-grounds stations had people to talk to. In all, I served on the board for 19 years.
My husband was recruited as a photographer. He climbed up to the catwalk in the pavilion to take some very unique pictures. He worked with the other fair photographer to be sure every event was covered. We needed pictures for the scrapbook. When Dick died, everything changed. It was hard to keep going. The only bonus was that by that time another generation was involved.
We are on to the third generation at this point. We all camp down there, but make numerous trips home. Of course, the ones with animals left at home go back and forth.
For a few years before my granddaughter got involved with the animals, she and I baked for the fair. We entered cookies, breads and muffins.
The boys sometimes enter something, and sometimes they do not. They enjoy the camp ground. You do not have to look far to find the boys. They are behind some tree playing or at the picnic table playing a game or eating.
We take turns cooking. That cuts down on the amount of stuff we have to take. We eat well at the fair. One night is left for fair food. That night we scatter to get whatever we like, then, gather by the picnic table to eat. Crock pots are pressed into use because that way food is ready whenever someone wants or needs to eat.
During the fair I will work in some of the food booths to help. The fair is always looking for volunteers. I am anxious to see the new food booth this year. That has been a major undertaking for the board. See you at the fair.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, Pa.