Maybe you go to the fair for the food. After all, who could resist a peanut butter and jelly pickle dog, or deep-fried Nutella custard stuffed French toast?

Along with all of the culinary delights, fairs offer something new for everyone.

And that’s the point.

Among all of the consternation over the rural-urban divide, there is a bright spot — the many county and state fairs that take place each year throughout the nation.

Whether you’re at the the Texas State Fair in Dallas, which draws 2.2 million visitors each year, or head north to the Tanana Valley State Fair in Fairbanks, Alaska, or south to the Manatee County Fair in Palmetto, Fla., you’ll get a heaping helping of country living.

More than anything else, these fairs allow agriculture to shine, and animals are often the stars of the show. Dairy and beef cattle, hogs, sheep and goats, poultry, horses, llamas — you name it — are all on display for everyone to see.

The animals are fascinating to watch close up, but talking with the adults and youths who raise them reveals a passion and depth of knowledge you won’t find anywhere else. Whether they are FFA or 4-H members or breeders, they readily answer any questions that might arise.

All a person has to do is ask about milking a goat or caring for longhorn cattle or keeping bees and he or she will get the straight story. It won’t be filtered through a public relations firm or a special interest group angling to make political points.

They are so disarmingly engaging, knowledgable and downright enjoyable to talk with that anyone can learn a thing or two.

The result is a connection with people, livestock and the country life that previously doesn’t exist anywhere else.

The beauty of a fair is it provides neutral ground for people to talk, get their questions answered and see for themselves how big a draft horse is or how small a chick is. The lucky ones might get to see the miracle of life — a calf being born or an egg hatching.

For adults and children alike, nothing can top that.

When we talk about the rural-urban divide, it’s the county and state fairs that provide a bridge that brings everyone together.

Once a year, everyone who attends a county or state fair can appreciate the joys of country living.

And learn about each other in an unfiltered and authentic way found nowhere else.

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