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Most of the time I love this job. And most of the time I'm the weird untraditional sort of "reporter" that isn't doing it like the big guys. I'm sure you wouldn't catch a single one of them giving a hug to a gal crying because she just lost everything she owned, Nor would you see them pondering if they should go to the nearest ATM and give the gal some cash to get her through. I've seen how "real" reporters do it. They literally bang on ambulance doors to get an interview. Me, I'm sitting as far away as I can as I try to get a good picture with my zoom lens so I don't disturb the distraught family.

You probably wouldn't find a "real" reporter staying up at night and wondering if they got it right. But then, I don't want to be in that category of reporters.

I remember when Vinton Today first started I asked another business owner if they stayed up at night wondering if they did everything throughout the day right, and worry over the business like it's another child. The answer was, "if you do it right, you do."

This past week, I've seen over and over what a city girl I am, and it shows in what I write.

The farming segment, I was more than happy to share, because I feel like the majority of us really don't get farming AT ALL. If you want to feel really stupid, you go and talk to a farmer and ask questions that seem like a simple yes or no will suffice, then listen as they explain the 15 layers that give them the answer. You'll be amazed and end up with something like WOW, you mean I need to know all that to get a YES or a NO? But you really do.

I found out today that the Fair is somewhat like that.

The FFA and 4-H while not limited to farmers, it's a completely different segment of The Fair.

As the Citidiot (City Idiot), I assumed when people said that the Fair is canceled, that meant the whole shebang was canceled. Bye-bye rides, concessions, grandstand...because in my mind, THAT is The Fair, that's the whole thing. Even after spending days on the Fairgrounds rubbing elbows with farmers, watching pigs and cows and being amazed by all of the kids out there who have spent months raising and training their animals last year, It SHOULD have dawned on me, I suppose that to the people in the barns THAT is The Fair.

Or to the people who submit entries to be judged, by painting, crocheting, sewing or who have grown plants to show or in canning to them, to those folks, THAT is The Fair.

To the ones in the Grandstands enjoying a band or a race, to them, THAT is The Fair.

To the carnival company that sets up the ferris wheel and games of chance and to those that buy a wristband to spend hours on the rides, THAT is The Fair.

To the ones setting up and running concessions, and making the best lemonade in the world that you wait for all year, and the funnel cakes, THAT is The Fair.

HOWEVER "The Fair" doesn't always mean ALL of those things at the same time, as I found out today. "The Fair" is made up of all of those people but not all of those people fall under one title, "The Fair" as a whole. They are a bunch of different pieces put together that meet at the fairgrounds one week a year to meet as The Fair.

So while the entertainment aspect, the grandstands, concessions, rides are all gone for the year, the dedicated kids who have worked their tails off to compete against fellow kids, will still be there, as soon as they get the all-clear from the Governor to do so. However, if watching the neighbor kids is "the Fair" for you, it's limited to family and not open to the public.

There will even be a Fair Queen presiding over the events.

So it's "fair" to say, that I'm still getting it all figured out, and in the future I'll be careful to ask, does this statement mean all 100 of these things? And then I'm sure I'll get an eye roll that says, "Woman are you daft? Of COURSE, it means all 100 of those things!"

So as a member of the ignorant city folk club, "the Fair" as we know it is canceled. To those hard-working kids and their families, "The Fair" is still on.

To the organizers sifting through and agonizing over what they should or shouldn't do, my hat is off to you. You are some of those leaders that no one ever recognizes and we really should. Every year. To the ignorant Fair goers, we just assume someone waves a magic wand and it all appears on the fairgrounds each and every year complete with bright lights and loud music.

Thank you so much for all that you do, to the FFA and the 4-H leaders who spend their time and effort to prepare these kids for this event, thank you for all of the behind the scenes work that you do. To the dads and moms that work so hard alongside your kids so that they can present at the fair, you also deserve the greatest appreciation for what you do, but no one sees that.

While The Fair will look different this year, again, it's just another set back in 2020. But The Fair will go on, for some of us.

And this gal, she now understands the difference between the fun part of The Fair and the working part of The Fair.

Best of luck to all of the competitors!

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Nichole McKenna May 7, 2020, 12:03 pm Valerie you have a tough job and sometimes it may not go as planned when reporting to us but when you throw these "opinions" to explain the mishap I love it no less!!!
Annette Olson May 7, 2020, 12:08 pm It's been a very long time since I was one of those 4-Hers at the Benton County fair, but I still feel strongly about it. When you say the exhibits will be open to family only, there are still an awful lot of people involved. The livestock pavilion will be full of "family members only." The barns will be full of "family members only." In fact I feel safe in saying the only place that will be full of non-family would be the grandstand shows and that would still be tons of family members. My point is, why allow family members and not any other interested public? It's open air, full of dust and manure and animal smells and if that won't kill ya, nothin' will.
Fritz Burow May 7, 2020, 1:55 pm As usual, your journalism skills have created a piece that is as informative as it is opinionated. Editor's note: I keep saying I need a Newsitorial tab...
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