• Kirk Ritchie

Fingers Crossed For A Carnival? Summer Concert July 14th?

Did I mention that we’ll be having another concert at the fairgrounds this summer? We are hoping to have at least one big concert every summer and more if the right situation presents itself. So, on July 14th we will be having ------- sorry, we still don’t have the okay to announce a name. Their agent should be contacting us anytime now and allowing us to say ------ will be performing in Springfield. We will let you know as soon as we can. In the meantime, please reserve that night and be sure you head out to the big city. And yes, we will offer free camping and beer sales on site along with plenty of food joints and more toilets.

We have requested mid 70’s temperatures, a high blue sky and slight summer breezes. Rain or shine ole ------- will be entertaining us with his many, many country hits. We think you’ll like the opening band too – but, we need to get their approval from the headliner before we can announce them also. We anticipate tickets going on sale in early May. They will be $20 in advance and $25 the day of the show. And, we continue to try to find a carnival that is willing to bring rides, games and food to Springfield over Labor Day Weekend. We know that you are as disappointed as us that we didn’t have one last year. We did have an agreement but Cushing Amusements decided that they were better off not coming to our fair city. With only 30 days notice – we had zero chance to find another, replacement carnival.

What we learned, as a result of the carnival bailing out last year, is that there are very few smaller carnivals still in existence in the northeast. Currently, we are working with one who helped us years ago. Please know that we are doing everything reasonable, within our power to have a carnival in 2018. But, if we are unable to contract one, we will still have a heck of a fair over Labor Day Weekend. It may only be for two days but it will be a wonderful family event with lots of critters and stuff for kids and adults to do and watch. We should know by the end of April if this particular carnival will be with us and we’ll get word out ASAP. Keep your fingers crossed and please – be patient. As time goes by the “younger generation’s” interest in pure agricultural fairs is waning. We feel that it is important for future generations to have a sense of not just farming and agriculture but of where food comes from and to understand, even a little, about why horse pulling events were started and how we needed horses as beasts of burden. We would like to continue to have our museum open and exhibit artifacts from generations ago, have kids be able to touch smaller animals and have a respect for them and an interest in them. We want “little ones” to have a safe, fun and exciting place to run, play and see new things for the first time. We wish to maintain our historic agricultural fair as much as possible.

The Springfield Fair started in 1851. People used Labor Day Weekend as a time to relax, unwind and in many cases – to visit with family and friends not seen since the previous year’s fair. The exhibits and events weren’t in place solely for their entertainment value. People crocheted, knitted and quilted because they had to make things themselves or go without. Livestock was judged and proudly displayed because it was, and is, important to have quality animals to reproduce, provide meat, eggs, milk, etc.. A prize bull was valued for his “reproductive qualities” (something most of us guys can relate to….). There was a purpose for agricultural fairs. They were needed to help stimulate commerce. And they were important for folks to be able to relax. In Springfield’s case, it was harvest time and vegetables were judged for quality. A blue ribbon meant a higher price at market for the recipient and not a trinket to be thrown away as they often are in today’s world.

As times change, if we want our kids to have a connection and understanding of agriculture, and our own history, it is up to us to show them these things. Hopefully, our little fair can help bridge the gap between generations – whether or not we have a carnival. Bring your kids to the fair and take them down to see the animals, go under the exhibit hall and look at the lovingly handcrafted items. Because these things are slowly slipping away. Before we know it, agricultural fairs will be a thing of the past – a fond memory. Maybe a faded ribbon, an old photo, or just a pleasant memory. All while our head is stuck in a cell phone or iPad, sadly.

Don’t let that happen. There is much more to life than knowing when your neighbor’s baby last filled her diaper, where the cousin is going on vacation, what your sister in law ate for breakfast or that Amazon has free delivery. Make a memory for yourselves and your kids and grandchildren. Bring ‘em to the 168th Springfield Fair. You won’t regret it!