Both Tradition and Transition are Vital for County Fairs

Both tradition and transition are vital for county fairs to flourish – ours included. The Buffalo County Fair has strong roots in tradition and this year is making room for a pivotal transition for Pepin County 4-H members.

A tradition is a custom that is passed down from one generation to the next. The Buffalo County Fair and Buffalo County 4-H are chockfull with traditions that are central to our history and our identity.

A very long-standing tradition is that of the Buffalo County Fair Outstanding 4-H Exhibitor award. For many years (let me know if you know the official first date), the recipient received an expensive gold watch from a local Mondovi jeweler. The watch was a symbol of dedication, hard work and leadership in Buffalo County 4-H and at the Fair. Today, a $100 scholarship from the Buffalo County 4-H Leaders Association continues the tradition; honoring the Oustanding 4-H Member and exhibitor with the best submitted application at the 3:00pm 4-H Awards Ceremony on Sunday. Whether a gold watch or dollars for college, we still recognize our 4-H youth leaders who contribute to our legacy through citizenship, leadership and life skills.

A very recent tradition at the Buffalo County Fair is the addition of community art projects presented by Buffalo County 4-H. Last year we weaved together and we developed a collaborative banner art througout the entire fair. I very much enjoyed seeing toddlers, teenagers and our most seasoned adults taking a turn to make something beautiful together. At this year’s Buffalo County Fair, Buffalo County 4-H will offer popsicle art, sting art and chalk art. I invite you to share your favorite 4-H and Fair traditions on our community art chalkboard (a tradition in the youth building transitioned into a new purpose). I cannot wait to see all the fair memories represented there! Help us continue this new tradition.

And, without the opportunity to transition, or make changes, every so often our Buffalo County Fair would fail to be fresh. Fail to be fun, especially for our youngest members and teenagers. One of our oldest transitions was moving the Fairgrounds from it’s original location near Cream, Wisconsin. The first Buffalo County Fair in 1872 had around 1500 fairgoers, included butter sculptures and horse races, and featured the first community organ. After a few years, the Buffalo County Fair transitioned to Alma and then again to Mondovi in 1884 to make room for the railroad. Without this transition, the Buffalo County Fair would not have expanded or continued to develop into a modern Fair. (Learn more about the deep-rooted history of the Fair at http://www.buffalocountyfairwi.com/history).

Another significant transition was the inclusion of young people’s animals and exhibits at the Buffalo County Fair. In 1919, only five years after 4-H started in the state, youth members first showcased their 4-H project work at the Buffalo County Fair. This important transition will be marked with 100 years next summer! A central part of our mission today is providing quality judging evaluation opportunities and learning experiences for over 600 exhibitors representing an expected 7250 entries!

Now in 2018, we commence on another significant transition – the coming together of two amazing Fairs and two successful 4-H programs. Please join me in welcoming Pepin County 4-H exhibitors and embarking on our next greatest tradition.

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