Alice Smith

July has arrived, summer swim, softball, children’s theatre and other activities are winding down and county fairs are happening all over. All of the fairs in the area are approaching 100 years of the continuous annual event and it is a good time to review the purpose of the fair. Jasper County’s Fair begins July 20.

Originally created to express the progress of the local community, fairs have traditionally displayed achievements, both agricultural and industrial. They often displayed innovations, inventions and ideas that were being created and offered for the common good of the community. The purpose of the fair is to educate by offering visible proof of the benefits occurring from the adaption of new ideas, to entertain through clean amusements and interesting displays and to inspire in the hearts of the patrons a respect for the community where they live.

The Jasper County fair is no different than any other and offers a wide variety of entertainment, educational displays and a variety of competitions. During fair week the 60+ acre grounds transform from a quiet grassy meadow dotted with assorted buildings where a variety of activities are held to a bustling small town complete with two large camper areas and several restaurants, well, food stands.

Throughout the many barns visitors will see 4-H families grooming and working with their animals as well as showing them in one of three arenas on the grounds. Some of the more interesting contests is the various levels of showmanship where the 4-H member is judged on skill rather on the quality of the animal. Each summer the barns are cleaned and prepared for the fair and various other shows held throughout the year.

Also near the entrance to the grounds you will find an active Pioneer Village and a display of antique tractors featuring Oliver tractors. Local businesses and commercial companies will have booths in the commercial building and various other locations and are anxious for you to stop in and visit with them.

Entertainment abounds each evening on the free stage and in front of the grandstand as well as various locations on the grounds. This year’s midway promises to provide thrills for all with several new attractions. There are programs with the fairs schedule of events available at many locations around the county.

Near the entrance two large buildings hold the 4-H and open class exhibits in air-conditioned comfort. 4-H projects will be entered and judged the week before the fair, while open class exhibits will be entered on July 19, between 6:30 and 7:30 p.m., or Saturday, July 20, from 8 to 10 a.m. with judging starting about noon.

While the fair is fun for everyone to attend, it can be even more fun to participate with an open class entry. Exhibits ranging from culinary delicacies to fine art projects, handcrafts such as knitting, crocheting and quilting to fresh home grown produce and flowers. Bring your handiwork to the fairgrounds and join the fun!

The Community Building also holds several activities throughout the week. July 20 kicks things off with a Cake Auction of the pies, cakes and breads entered in the contest earlier that day. Sunday features a concert by the county chorus, and a visit from characters in the recent Cemetery Walk. Throughout the week there are various craftsmen demonstrating their hobby and opportunities to observe or even participate in glass blowing, painted quilt blocks, glass mosaic, Lego builds, and quilting blankets to benefit Ronald McDonald House or Wounded Warriors.

The Jasper County Fair Association works hard year-round to present one of the finest county fairs in the area and are excitedly preparing every detail for another great fair. Plan to attend the fair often between July 20 and 27, you will be glad you did!