We spent a little extra time at the Saline County Fairgrounds last week.
During my tenure as a newspaper reporter, I had spent many days and evenings there reporting on the young people involved in 4-H and FFA and their various projects. But it had been a while since I was there on an almost daily basis. When our son decided to raise a couple of Boer goats to show at the fair, that all changed.
For me, the time spent at the fair brought memories of those days I spent at the fairgrounds with a camera strapped around my neck, a memo pad clinched tightly in one hand and a pen held firmly in the other. It also reminded me of interviews done with raisers of steers, sheep, goats, hogs and rabbits as well as those who put their time into projects shown in the fairground's Multipurpose Building.
But the thing I felt most comforting, if that is the proper term to use, was getting reacquainted with the sounds of the fair. The noise generated by the animals brought together corporately in a relatively small space is constant except -- I would suppose -- during the wee hours of the morning.
And it isn't an obnoxious sound, really. The symphony of animal voices from livestock pens in the background while a show ring announcer introduces another entry or the voice of a livestock judge explaining why he chose such and such an animal as Grand Champion bleeding through over the airwaves as an ag reporter finishes an on-air interview with the owner of the Grand Champion lamb are just all part of the sounds of the fair.
Add to these the sounds of happy crowds cheering as they are entertained by drivers in the demolition derby, the singers at the talent contest, or the cowboys and cowgirls at the rodeo, and you get the idea. As Templeton the Rat so astutely put it in "Charlotte's Web," the fair is a veritable smorgasbord. But it's not just about the food you can find there -- which is pretty good fare in and of itself -- it's a virtual buffet of sound waves.
One of my favorite sounds from the fair is the sound of youngsters making a concerted effort to thank the sponsors who bid on their projects at the livestock sale on Friday night. You can see them pick their way through the crowds of people to that one person who placed the winning bid on their ham, lamb, goat, rabbit, or pig.
"Thank you for buying my (fill in the blank)," they say.
It's just another sound of the fair, and it always seems to bring a smile to the face of the buyer.
Thanks to the Fair Association, the buyers, the singers, the cowboys and cowgirls, the drivers, and the young participants and their advisors for making the 2009 Saline County Fair such a fun and memorable time.