The Saratoga Sun -

A Great County Fair

 

August 18, 2021



My father may not be on this earth any longer, but I’m pretty sure he is looking down from above, very happy I eventually moved to Carbon County.

Do I think that is because of the beautiful landscape which is varied and abundant with all sorts of wildlife?

I guess he would appreciate the nature but honestly, having lived in Hawaii, Queensland Australia, and directly on the Severn River in Maryland (very close to the historical city of Annapolis) there could be a case made I have lived in more scenic places. It is pretty hard not to be charmed by koalas in trees you run by daily. In Hawaii I enjoyed seeing mongooses moving around the amazing parks near Diamond Head as they darted from palm tree to another. If tropical white sand beaches with clear crystal waterfalls running into the ocean nearby are the basis for beauty, I have lived in some incredible places.

The reason I think my father would be happy about my move to Carbon County, is me finally learning a little about agriculture.

Really.

I come from farming stock on my father’s side and my dad was quite proud of that.

There have been Armstrongs working the land in Fauquier County in Virginia, for over 200 years. My father grew up on a dairy farm until he went to college and would still visit the farm, even after he sold it (his best friend bought it from him). During these visits, my dad would try very hard to get me interested in different aspects of running a farm.

Burbs kid that I was, the gardening I did at home was enough Ag for me. I hate to admit it now, but I could have cared less about anything that had to with animal husbandry.

There is something to be said about an environment you grow up in. I did a column recent enough about what if I had been raised on the Armstrong dairy farm. I pondered how different my life would have been growing up in a very small town in Virginia with relations abounding all around me.

Instead, I grew up in a town about the size of Laramie exactly between Baltimore and D.C.

I did learn to ride a horse a fairly young age while living in Texas, but even then, it wasn’t like I was out riding very often in Maryland. It happened, but it was on horses owned by friends and it was usually in the safety of a pen or some nearby horse trail.

I was completely ignorant about anything Ag when I graduated high school or for that matter, college.

It took living in Carbon County before I did anything remotely agricultural, with the exception of a class I took at the University of Hawaii where I learned about fish farms.

My interest in agriculture did start when I started my first gardens about 20 years after I bought my first home in Saratoga.

I am good at gardening for the most part, but anything else to do with Ag I stayed embarrassingly ignorant

About 10 years ago, I helped herd some cattle at a ranch in Carbon County which turned out to be way cool. I will admit, because my knowledge of driving cattle was almost nil, I was happy not have fallen off the horse. Actually I did a fair amount of horse-back riding in Australia because a friend of mine owned horse trekking business, but herding cattle is way different than leisurely riding trails through jungles.

I accepted I was destined to be pretty ignorant about Ag and the farming blood that ran through my veins didn’t mean much in my life.

Then four years ago, I covered my first Carbon County Fair for the Sun. It was glaring to me how little I knew about anything to do with all of the aspects of Ag.

I remember looking at the kids roping a dummy horse/calf and being in awe that these kids were learning this skill at such a young age.

Our county fairs in Maryland were all about carnival rides. I don’t even remember any animals, not that I was really paying attention. Only the State Fair had Ag stuff and I don’t really remember even attending one.

As I went through the exhibit hall where I saw the different projects awarded, I was blown away on all that Ag entailed. This was my first dip in the Ag pool and I was surprised how interesting it was.

No wonder my dad had wanted me to pay a little more attention to a farm’s workings when we used to visit our relatives who still lived in Midland.

Since my first year, I have found myself covering stories concerning Ag and how important it is to Carbon County.

What became glaringly apparent is how much labor is put into making the Carbon County Fair a success by so many.

I just really have to honor all the people that work so hard to put this event together. The work just isn’t during the Fair itself, but entails months of planning.

Julie Webb the director, deserves recognition on how she, the Carbon County Board and all the volunteers put in so much time to give locals an excellent activity to attend. The support they give to the kids who also put in so much time and work with their projects is truly inspiring.

When I interviewed Ann and Dale Wille who were the Grand Marshals this year of the Carbon County Fair, it was heartening to hear how this couple worked with the students to do their very best in Little Snake River Valley over the years.

The Carbon County Fair is really amazing to me. Our county is about 20,000 people which is pretty small compared to Prince Georges (P.G.) County, Maryland, where I grew up. P.G. county has over 900,000 residents.

I don’t know how Julie and all involved pull it off, but they do. I have watched them do it for several years now and it is a week of wonder to behold. Plus I learn tons every time I go. This year it was about cattle dogs.

Yep, I really bet my father is happy I moved to Carbon County even if he can’t tell me.

I am happy I moved here too. If only to get to attend the Carbon County Fair each year and be amazed at what it offers.

 

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