Friday, October 30, 2015

Coveting my Neighbor's Fair

by Will Gilmer

As a young child, one of the first full passages of Scripture I was expected to learn and recite was the listing of the Ten Commandments. Today I would like to draw your attention to the tenth and final commandment, "Thou shalt not covet...anything that belongs to thy neighbor" (Exodus 20:17, KJV).

I confess that I am guilty of that one, guilty of coveting something that belongs to my neighbor. No, it's not his house, his wife, his paycheck, or his free weekends and holidays off from work.

It's his county fair.

The Fayette County Multipurpose Complex, home to the Fayette County Fair.
I covet these things. Ohhhh, how I covet. (photo courtesy of
The Fayette County Fair recently concluded and I didn't even have to attend to be jealous of it. Just knowing they can pull off an annual multi-day event featuring carnival rides and livestock expos and we can't makes me hang my head in shame. The fact that they very neighborly welcome us to visit and even participate in some of the events feels almost condescending,  adding a layer of resentment on top of my covetousness. After all, what makes our next-door neighbor...larger by only by 24 square miles and roughly 2500 residents...more capable of having a county fair than we? It's one more thing they can boast about that we can't, along with a hospital, community college, and a Wal-Mart (ok, they can keep that last one).

While we have several really good single-day festivals scattered around Lamar County (Old Fashion Day, Scarecrow Festival, etc.), to my knowledge we don't have that one really big event that everyone from Detroit to Kennedy can take ownership of. As hot as our county's school football rivalries run, it would be kind of nice to bring everyone together for a few evenings in mid-October to eat funnel cake and ride the Ferris wheel. It might even lead to some kids putting down their electronic gadgets for a while to pick up a livestock halter.

I have very distinct memories of showing dairy heifers at fairs and 4H competitions in Fayette, Tuscaloosa, and Birmingham. But the fondest memories are from the shows held in the Lamar County Showbarn on Hwy 17 just south of Vernon. Why? Because it gave me an opportunity to interact with kids from other parts of the county, and because it was our home show. As it stands, my kids won't get that same chance to show cows on their home turf because the showbarn is now home to county equipment and piles of gravel.

So I guess what I'm arguing for is both a county fair and a nice facility to host it. Fayette County has those things thanks to a lot of forethought and smart decision-making, and I covet what they have. We can have those things too if enough of us are willing to work toward bringing them to Lamar County, and you can count me among those ready to roll up their sleeves and make it happen.

Our county spent years and plenty of money chasing the Great White Whale known as "the reservoir". Let's now put our energy and resources toward something we know we can achieve, and before long we can enjoy strolling past pens and stables of livestock while munching on a fried Twinkie without having to go to our neighbor's house to do it.