Very little about 2020 has seemed fair. The latest casualty is the cancellation of county fairs. Yes, the state fair is also cancelled and that is sad, but the county fair is where it all starts for young 4-Hers.
Right about now I’d typically be planning a day or two at the Chautauqua County Fair, where I showed cattle throughout my 4-H career. No fair! It’s not the lack of cotton candy, sugar waffles, “I got it” or creaky rides that has me pouting. It’s not being able to take in what so many youths have worked so hard on throughout the year. It’s recalling what that experience meant to me and feeling ache for those who are unable to do the same this year. The county fair is a most magical place filled with memories of hard work, bonding with others, winning some, losing some, harmless pranks and falling in love for the first time.
I do my best to be optimistic, but I think most of us are feeling our optimism tanks running dry. But hey, I’ll give it a good college try. Won’t you play along?
Today’s youth are being challenged to learn and grow in new ways. One of the greatest things about 4-H is a sense of community, of belonging to something big that each of us experiences in a unique way. We are seeing community in a whole new way. Sometimes the community is at odds, but by and large, I see a lot of good. I’ve found turning off the news and unfollowing certain people and forums on social media has greatly increased my ability to see the good happening around me.
People are washing their hands. Like, really washing their hands. I’m no germaphobe, but my momma raised a handwasher. Throw in a history of working in biotech, pharmaceutical and the food industry and it has made me hyper aware of people’s habits. If this pandemic has taught people nothing else, hopefully it’s that the simple act of washing your hands and not picking your nose are good things. Let’s keep it up!
People are helping each other. A couple of months ago I featured a young lady who started delivering dairy goods to people in need. There’s a trend of people looking out for each other. You can go ahead and cling to negativity. Maybe that’s what you prefer. I’m not implying bad things don’t exist. I am proclaiming that there’s so much good to be found!
People are reading books. When I stopped into the local book shop to purchase a few items, I was delighted to learn that book sales have greatly increased for them. There’s no lack of shows to binge-watch, but nothing beats the imagination of visualizing your own characters as you flip pages of paper.
Still pouting about the lack of fresh cotton candy? Why not try popping some popcorn the old-fashioned way on top of the stove with vegetable oil? Then gather the family and have a story telling session. I love when my dad tells stories, even if I’ve heard them a time or twenty before.
Instead of playing I spy with a color, try playing I spy something positive. Challenge others to do the same.
If you’re wanting a little bit of fair, check out the Facebook NYS Virtual County Fair. Nothing beats the real thing, but you can still check out all kinds of 4-H projects and give a thumbs up to a youth that’s still putting their heart into a project.
Until next time, stay safe, and stay positive!