By: Aimee Bingham Osinski firstname.lastname@example.org
As I walked around the Chelsea Fair last week, I smiled fondly, reminiscing about my own childhood, in Saline, in the 80s and 90s. The flashing lights, the fair food, the music blaring, even some of the rides were the same. It’s nice that communities hold on to a bit of history in this rapidly changing world. I wondered about the history of fairs in general. Common sense told me it has its roots in agriculture much like Saline, Chelsea, and Manchester. According to history daily.org, “The first county fair was in 1807 and the brainchild of sheep farmer Elkana Watson. His goal was to promote better farming and farming practices. The first fair was nothing more than a sheep shearing contest.” It was so successful that Watson expanded upon the idea and began creating events and entertainment for the whole family. But the center of the local fair remains farming and farming practices.
This year’s fair was a success. I got to witness part of my first livestock auction ever. I was able to tour the barns with different contests from photography, to quilting, to canning and vegetable growing. Many of the contests reflect the skills and talents needed, beyond livestock to keep a farm running. They are skills that are still useful today, especially in a challenging economy. Being able to grow and store food is a valuable skill to have. Being able to knit, sew or quilt would, I imagine, be very handy as well. That, I don’t know because these are things I cannot do.
We enjoyed; the goats, donkeys, Alpacas, chickens and other animals. Due to the livestock auction we did not get to tour all the barns but we fell in love with a tiny donkey and my daughter enthusiastically “watered,” or milked the demonstration cow. We enjoyed a bucket of fair fries with vinegar and rode as many rides as we could before we were overstimulated by all the music, flashing lights and people.
The Chelsea Fair was fun for the whole family with agriculture at the center. I saw a man wearing a shirt that said, “I’m a farmer, what’s your superpower?” I nodded in agreement. I’m grateful to the agricultural community for keeping us all so well fed and for working hard to pass down the knowledge and traditions so it isn’t lost.