2011-09-01 / Letters

Fair Shows Off Best of Community

To The Editor:

It seems to be getting harder to be an optimist these days.

I recently read a newspaper article that complained the United States of America was increasingly inhabited by consumers, rather than citizens. In the last 30 years, work weeks have lengthened, manufacturing has declined, far fewer people are involved in agricultural production, and consumption of material goods seems to be the largest measure of personal success.

At present, nearly two-thirds of our nation’s economy comes from consumer spending. As one author put it, “we’re exhausted, we’re stressed, and for relief we go shopping.” Unfortunately, when consumer confidence is low, the financial markets take a beating. If we’re all so busy shopping and worrying, perhaps it is no surprise there is an ongoing decline in civic involvement and volunteerism.

Combine these trends with recession, open-ended military commitments abroad, and a federal government that seems to be paid to make problems worse, and even the most upbeat among us can have trouble finding the silver lining.

But the silver lining was evident the other night, at the Fulton County Fairgrounds, of all places. It was children’s day at the fair. I often hear “the fair ain’t what it used to be.” In spite of that, there were hundreds of children standing in line for their turn on the rides; competing for, or watching, the Little Miss Fair Queen Pagent; tending or showing their livestock.

Meanwhile, just as many adults were enjoying their evening. Many of those adults were giving of their time to maintain the fairgrounds, organize and run the events, prepare and serve food to benefit the local 4-H, the McConnellsburg Lions Club Community Park and the McConnellsburg Fire Co., among others.

As I enjoyed the fair with my family, I waved to, and talked with friends, family and neighbors. Mechanics, bankers, farmers, lawyers, merchants, elected officials, coaches, factory workers and teachers all getting together to enjoy a summer evening in Fulton County.

As I looked around, I thought of how much Fulton County has to be confident about, and I wondered how many Americans could still enjoy that feeling of community and sense of place. I also wondered why I spend so much time complaining, and so little time being thankful for my neighbors, and the community in which I’m lucky enough to live.

Many thanks to the Fulton County Fair Board, Penn State Extension, the volunteers who work hard to make the fair a success, and all the patrons who turn out to support their neighbors and enjoy a great tradition.

Scott Alexander


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