EDITORIAL: A fair legacy

The first Marion County Fair was held Oct. 27-30, 1931-two years to the day after a disastrous stock market crash sucked this country into the depths of the Great Depression. It’s an amazing thought, really. While most of the county agonized in economic chaos and gloom, a handful of Hillsboro-area farmers and businessmen banded together to stem what must have been a rising tide of negativism and self-pity. These folks didn’t whine about their misfortune. Instead, they did something unconventional to change and improve their situation. Along the way, they hoped to educate and recreate the people who followed their lead.

That’s quite a legacy of life-changing self-determination. Now in its 70th incarnation, the Marion County Fair, in our eyes, continues to carry the banner of hope for the rural economy of Marion County. In one sense, we’re a long way from the Great Depression. In fact, our country, across the board, is more prosperous today than at any time in its history.

But the picture isn’t quite so pretty here in the Heartland of America, where almost all of us still have at least one financial foot resting on the future of agribusiness. We know, for many farmers, it’s difficult to be prosperous on the farm. In these changing times, few claim to know what the next year will bring, much less the next generation.

But we still have the Marion County Fair. It may not hold the same fascination for the masses that it did in its early days. Sharing space with video games, theme parks and Super Bowl halftime shows, it’s darn near impossible for a small county fair to keep pace with the “entertainment inflation” of modern life.

But if we can see the fair through the lens of history, it still can be compelling. The Marion County Fair is still a showcase for your community, your neighbors, your kids. It’s folks gathering to celebrate another year of getting along and getting on. It’s a way of saying to each other, “Look at what we’ve accomplished to this point. Dream about what we will accomplish in the future.”

We thank the many, many volunteers and staff who have worked tirelessly to produce this year’s fair. Without even consciously intending to, they have continued the legacy of life-changing determination that has kept this county on the progressive edge.

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