County Fair Traditions
Welcome to a Country Celebration
I love our local County 4-H Fair. I really do, I was in 4-H growing up in Connecticut (The Scantic Valley Riders) and loved our Hartford County Fair and the Big E Exposition in the fall. So it's safe to say I've been going to a county fair every year for 35 years. It's not summer without the fair.
It is four days of a vacation and one big celebration with lots to see, people to visit, food to eat, and a people watching extravaganza.
The Cass County 4-H Fair in Weeping Water Nebraska puts on one of the best county fairs in the state of Nebraska. It is actually the only totally free fair in the state. That means everything (except food) is free, admission is free, parking is free, the stage shows are free, the demolition derby is free, the tractor pulls are free, EVERYTHING is free!
Every year there is something more to see, another event I learn to love and just not enough time to do everything. This year we added the Barbeque People Choice contest and the Figure 8 Races at the tractor pit.
I love every day of it from the hog show, the open class building and the barrel racing. I've seen kids grow up at the fair and now I'm watching the kids of kids now showing in the livestock classes.
So take a trip to the county fair with me, I'll show you around, tell you a little about what to expect if you haven't been before and if you're from the country maybe a trip down memory lane. (All the photos are mine that I've taken over the years)
Fair Projects for Kids - 4-H Project Ideas
4-H has something for everyone, it's not just about animals and livestock. Kids who enjoy science, engineering, woodworking, and electronics can enter projects at the county level. If their project receives a blue ribbon it is eligible to advance to the State Fair.
Below are some books for kids to get ideas for 4-H projects. A popular category in 4-H is baking and the cupcake division gets very creative and fun. 4-H is a fun activity for parents and kids to do together. 4-H builds strong families and is a tradition in many areas of the country.
Science projects are popular at the fair and attract a lot of attention. The scientific process is normally written out in a notebook form, photos are taken of the experiment during the process and a display board is created showing the process. This project can also double as an entry in the public speaking category.
The older kids in 4-H do some amazing woodworking and refinishing projects. Normally this is because as younger 4-Hers they started with smaller projects, practiced and learned new skills each year. This book is a perfect starter book for any child interested in getting started with woodworking projects and wood crafts.
It's stereotypical, but girls primarily enter sewing and fashion projects. Again the older 4-H'ers are accomplished sempstresses and model their creations of prom dresses, tailored coats and suits. One local 4-H'er actually is now majoring in fashion design in college. She always earned purple and Champion trophies on her sewing projects.
I Won Best of Show in the Photography Division
I don't enter a lot of items in the open class division anymore, I just don't have the time I used to have when I was a stay at home Mom. (I used to enter crafts, flowers, herbs, and vegetables) But I still enter the photography contest every year.
This year I won Grand Champion photo, in years pasts I've won lots of purple ribbons for Best in Class, but it's been a very long time since I won Grand Champion. I think it was when I was still shooting film, so it's been about ten years.
I seriously was shocked I won with this photo, I won a total of three purple ribbons for Best in Class and the judge chooses the Grand Champion from the purple ribbons.
After giving it some thought this image was technically better than the others with the correct exposure, and tack sharp focus from corner to corner. It probably also represented the abstract and patterns category better than the other entries.
Ever since digital photography has become really popular the entries in the open class have exploded. They normally have over 300 entries. My daughter won Grand Champion Photography last year with her photo of the Bow Bridge from Central Park.
Photography Contest - Some of my past entries in the photography open class competitionClick thumbnail to view full-size
Candy Apples & Caramel Apples - Sweet and Tangy Fair Food
I have food traditions at the county fair. On Saturday night as I head out to my car I stop at the Midway and buy a caramel apple from the food booth.
The combination of the sweet caramel and tangy green apple is a delicious treat I crave every year and makes the ending of the fair a sweet and fulfilling experience.
If you can't get your fill of candy or caramel apples at the fair you can make them at home. County and state fairs are normally at the end of the summer and fall is just around the corner. That means apple season and fall festivals. A perfect time to dip some apples in caramel and have a treat for a neighborhood party.
Cotton Candy Maker - A Kids Favorite Carnival Treat
What do you get when you spin sugar into a cloud? Cotton Candy of course. When I would bring my children to "Kids Day" at the fair (where you can ride all you want for $10) the one treat of the afternoon was cotton candy.
We would pull off big chunks and let it dissolve in your mouth and tickle your tongue. With a cotton candy kit you can now make cotton candy at home and it can even be sugar free. Just how do they do that anyway. Doesn't sugar free cotton candy defeat the purpose?
If you're planning a neighborhood carnival or party make cotton candy to add to the festivities. Perfect for a themed birthday party.
Fun at the Fair Photos - Pictures from a country fairClick thumbnail to view full-size
Make Your Own Funnel Cakes - Bring the Fair Home
I love funnel cakes, and my Friday night tradition when before I leave to go home is to buy a funnel cake on the Midway. It has to have powdered sugar, I don't get into the other funnel cake toppings such as cinnamon, jelly, or chocolate drizzle. Powdered sugar is decadent and half the fun is getting it all over.
Use your own recipe or purchase already prepared funnel cake mix.
Have your own taste of the county fair at home.
- 1 large egg (beaten)
- 2 cups milk
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 TBSP sugar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 4 TBSP (1/2 stick) real butter
- powdered sugar (for liberally sprinkling on top)
- Mix the egg, milk and vanilla together in a medium bowl. Combine the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Gradually add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix with a beater until the mixture forms a smooth batter.
- Melt the butter and gradually fold (softly mix) into the batter. Pour into a funnel or your funnel cake maker and drizzle into hot oil in a circular fashion on top of each other. Fry for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. Place on layered paper towels to soak up residue oil.
- Sprinkle liberally with powdered sugar, eat and enjoy
Come to the County Fair - Experience a bit of country and have some fun
A few years ago the Cass County Fair added another a video contest to and offered prize money for the top video created that best represented the experience of the County Fair. Below are just a few of the videos.
So take some time, and visit the best county fair in Nebraska. We love it, hope you do to, and if you're in the area stop by, there is plenty to do, plenty to eat, and plenty to see.
Fair Experience - Do you enjoy a fair
Have you been to a county, or state fair? If so what do you like most about a country fair? Is it a tradition in your family. Around here it's the social event of the year. It's the place to see everyone and be seen. We wouldn't miss it.
Have You Attended a County or State Fair?
Animals At the Fair - Farm Animals and ExoticsClick thumbnail to view full-size
If you like what you read, let me know.