As we look forward to the 2012 Dodge County Fair, and the 125th Anniversary Celebration, it’s important to review the value of fairs and benefits to youth exhibitors. Are the benefits worth the many months of time and energy spent getting ready?
Most people feel county fairs are fun (and they are), but a study done by the Department of Rural Sociology at UW-Madison indicates that fairs do indeed play an educational role. The study compared the fair to the classroom. County Board members indicated they thought youth learned a great deal at fairs. They also said they thought the educational value of five days at the fair was equal to that of five days in the classroom.
The obvious questions still remain: “What did the exhibitor learn?” Fair competition provides youth with a chance to develop specific skills such as animal showmanship, demonstration skills, home economics skills, a variety of craft skills and others. In many cases, qualified judges meet face-to-face with youth exhibitors and give them suggestions and comments. This really does make the fair a learning experience.
In addition, fairs provide an opportunity to learn about people and human nature. The fair also provides an opportunity for cooperation. Club entries for herdsmanship in animal projects certainly come in here. We cannot forget the cooperation of many, many youth and adult volunteers. For without them, the fair would never happen.
I’ve seen benefits of the fair many times over. I think it’s important to look at what the experience has done for the youth. If the youth has had proper guidance during the course of the year, they should have had some success. They should have gained confidence in their ability and should be developing a positive self-concept. This means that he or she believes in him or herself and their ability to do things that they feel ought to get done. It is part of the process of growing up and being a happy and mature human being. If we can continue to make fairs educational, a chance to work together and a chance to make decisions and form values, then I consider our time on fairs well spent.
Come and join us for the 2012 Dodge County Fair, August 15-19 and see what our young people have accomplished!