County fairs—a celebration of harvest, skills, productivity, and survival—are reality shows for city dwellers, and an annual last hurrah for rural Americans before they buckle down for the long winter.
In 1811, a gentleman farmer in Pittsfield, Massachusetts organized the first American county fair. Livestock was shown for prizes, spinning and weaving machines were displayed, a band played, and a rural community gathered together. Since then, county fairs have been an annual tradition, full of charm, excitement and the competitive spirit, from New England to Southern California, and from the Deep South to the Pacific Northwest.
Today, less than 2% of families work the land. And while the late summer celebrations of rural accomplishment have survived and, in many places, flourish, they …[ … ] Read The Full Story