Prediction: Final attendance numbers are going to be up this year at the Iowa State Fair and its county tributaries.

The reason? Residents didn’t get a chance to celebrate last year’s bounty. As the summer nears its end, it’s practically mandatory to acknowledge the industry that keeps us going.

This year, we need to make up for lost time.

Already, we’ve enjoyed a number of county fairs in Siouxland and each has been a welcome break from a pandemic that, stubbornly, won’t go away.

If you’ve been, you know how great it is to watch 4-H participants step out of their comfort zones, farmers exhibit their produce and businessmen display their wares.

Never been? Then you’ve missed the joys of eating a pork chop in a glove, riding the Tunnel of Love or taking a selfie with an incredibly large pumpkin.

At fairs, visitors have tasted just about any food you can put on a stick and dip in a deep-fat fryer. They’ve been turned every which way in dozens of rides. And they’ve gotten a chance to watch tractors, cars and monster trucks show just how powerful they can be.

At livestock competitions, they’ve been able to see how well teenagers have tended cattle, sheep, chickens, rabbits – you name it. And the care and attention they’ve shown isn’t rewarded with gold medals or endorsement deals. They’re honored with red, white and blue ribbons.

At county and state fairs, attendees have gotten to listen – and respond – to politicians hoping to win local, state and national elections. In Iowa, it’s not uncommon to see a future president enjoying an ear of corn while talking about the need for better ag prices.

Thanks to folks like the late Bill Riley Sr., the Iowa State Fair has been a launching pad for budding talent in all areas of the arts. Performing ballet moves on a cement slab isn’t an oddity. It’s a way of life.

In grandstands, budding singers have gotten their first taste of applause.

In open fields, volunteers have learned the finer points of parking – and crowd control.

In 1945, when Hollywood producers wanted to capture the atmosphere on film, they set “State Fair” in Iowa, a place where agriculture has true meaning.

Before the summer turns into fall, reward yourself with a visit to a state or county fair. You’ll see plenty that will remind you of all that’s good in our country.

Sometimes, an attitude adjustment is just that simple.

Originally published in the Sioux City Journal

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