COLUMN: Lessons from working the fair

Farm Forum

I just wrapped up my second year as a board member for the Dickey County Fair. After an exhausting few days, with marathon hours that included 4-H, pigs, mud, children and everything in between, I’ve finally had a minute to sit back and think about what transpired throughout the weekend.

Every day at the fair, we had different sets of obstacles to overcome, different types of problems, but more importantly, a whole new opportunity for fun and education.

It was truly one of those situations that you could look at and become frustrated from what wasn’t, or look at it for the lessons that could be learned and the improvements that could be made the next year.

There was also plenty of opportunity for laughter and camaraderie. Anyone that has ever served on a board, let alone a fair board, will tell you that those two items can get you through just about anything when you’re trying to organize a large event.

But enough about all of that, what I really want to share with you are some of the lessons learned this year:

Setting up takes four times longer than tearing down. And somehow, between the two, your attention to details wanes. For example, you start off setting up an area, making sure that every knot is tied, every strap secure, and when you take it down, you’re satisfied if it makes a pile about the same size as what you started with. People will go out of their way to track you down to complain about the smallest of details. But all of that is wiped out with a single “thank you” from someone who is enjoying their day. And that one gesture carries you through the whole weekend. If the EMS attendants at the cooling station ask if you need to sit down for a few minutes, perhaps it’s time to run home to shower and change. Apparently, by hour 12 in a 20-hour day you can start to look a little green around the gills. There is no proper way to carry watermelons without eliciting a case of the giggles and re-enacting the scene from “Dirty Dancing.” At least, not from my experience. But perhaps that had to do with the heat and exhaustion. I’ll let you know next year. Young board members are priceless not only due to their new ideas and fresh perspectives, but their energy and rejuvenation. Of course, they are also great sources of entertainment and laughter as well. Technology is a great addition to the fair. Security cameras allow for hours of entertainment. It also helps solve mysteries, such as how did the pigs get out? Overall, the Dickey County Fair of 2013 was a weekend filled with great memories, great moments and great people. Every minute of hard work and lost sleep was worth it. I can’t wait to do it all again next year.

Val Wagner loves raising her four boys on the farm in Dickey County, along with her husband, Mark. Catch her blog, Wag’n Tales, at, or follow one of their cows on Twitter at Cows_Life. Contact her at