A few of you may have noticed that I write an article each summer and release it on social media the Sunday before the Buffalo County Fair. I try to make the letter a meaningful and relevant one. Unfortunately, my letter this year comes early. I hope it’s a powerful and pertinent one, nonetheless.
The truth is I’m grieving right now. Grief is the pain that accompanies significant loss. My heart truly aches that we will not have a Buffalo County Fair in 2020. Even though my brain likely knew this day was coming for a while, I’m still experiencing the shock and sadness that comes with this official announcement.
I will miss the bright smiles of our Cloverbuds when they get their big purple rosettes. I will miss seeing a young person proudly walking out of the show ring with their head held high with the knowledge of hard work accomplished. I will miss hearing the squeals of delight from the pony and the carnival rides. I will miss the days of preparation and clean up that illustrate a high level of teamwork. I will miss the impromptu conversations at midnight that spark innovation and growth. I’ll even miss the stress (and chaos) that comes with the excitement and the bustle of the Buffalo County Fair. Most importantly, though, I will miss connecting with all of you.
Healing from a loss as big as the Buffalo County Fair will take time. We all cope in different ways. One of the ways I’m managing is by identifying ways to strengthen our programming in virtual ways so we can stay united despite the cancellation of our 2020 culminating event. Another way I’m coping is by reminding myself of all the reasons to give appreciation and recognition right now.
For example, I’m grateful for our Buffalo County Agricultural Fair Association and that while it was a very difficult decision, the directors and officers came to that decision after reviewing multiple factors and data. They chose the route that promotes the health and safety of everyone and keeps the Buffalo County Fair sustainable for another 148 years.
I’m also grateful for a robust Fair family of volunteers, superintendents and exhibitors that are both dedicated and passionate. I’m confident that our families in both Buffalo and Pepin Counties are resilient and will take this decision in stride. We will bounce back ready for more next year, but with even more knowledge and skills to improve and build on a strong foundation.
I’m grateful, too, for our essential partners and communities that provide significant financial and social supports every year, this one included. A thriving Buffalo County Fair as successful as ours doesn’t happen without the vendors, the buyers and the businesses that eagerly support our young people.
Finally, I’m grateful for Buffalo County Fair’s deep history and rich traditions that will ensure we’ll have something to be proud of and to come back to stronger than ever next year. (I can’t wait to see your Blue Jeans and Country Dreams in 2021 and plan for the upcoming sesquicentennial!)
No matter where you are in the roller coaster of grieving and coping, I hope most of all that your energy and efforts stay focused on our young people. Even without the ‘main event’ there’s lessons to be learned, skills to be developed and growing to be accomplished.
Give support to our youth as they navigate their grief and help them continue their projects even without the award and premium at the finale. Find new and unique ways to ensure our youth exhibitors they belong and we care about their contributions. Model ethical behavior while you cope and move forward. And, above all, be kind. Just be kind.