It’s like stepping back in time. Back to a simpler way of life, before computers, before smart phones, before ipads and ipods and even before television. It is stepping back into the real world with cows and horses, chickens and rabbits, tomatoes and pumpkins, pies and cakes, quilts and cross stitch, woodworking and painting. It’s blue ribbons, drawing for bicycles, and listening to local bands. It’s fireworks and the dazzling lights of the midway. It’s Polish sausage with peppers and onions, country ham, candied apples, ice cream, and cotton candy. It’s the 72nd annual edition of the Davidson County Agricultural Fair and it starts on September 18.
I love the fair. Beyond the sights and sounds, beyond the enticing aromas and exciting events such as Senior Citizen Thursday, the Davidson County Beauty Pageant, the livestock shows, and the Diaper Derby, it is just the experience of returning to a simpler way of life where you greet your neighbors face to face rather than on Facebook. It’s all about having some good, old-fashioned fun and indulging in a tempting slice of authentic Americana.
There is another reason, a deeper reason that I love the fair. It’s about helping other people. The Lexington Kiwanis Club sponsors the fair to provide the revenue to help children in Davidson County.
Each summer approximately 180 deserving children who have been selected by the Department of Social Services experience a week of summer camp that costs their family nothing. All of these children will have a great week of activity and fun, but the camp means even more to some. Kamp Kiwanis is a safe haven, a reprieve from the hard life that many of these children live each day. These children are fed, loved, encouraged and protected at camp. For many it is the highlight of their year.
Kamp Kiwanis started almost 90 years ago, back in 1928. From the beginning it was an expensive endeavor. In 1945 the club was granted permission to sponsor the annual agricultural fair to generate the funds needed to run the camp. Seventy-two years later we are still sponsoring the fair to provide the needed revenue for Kamp Kiwanis.
When the members of the Kiwanis Club visit the camp in the summer, the children are eager to thank us and tell us what they love the most. I will never forget one little boy with the biggest smile whose face was smeared with icing asking me, “Are you a Kiwanzian?” I thought about it for just a moment before quickly responding, “Yes. Yes I am a Kiwanzian!” The little fellow looked at me with the most sincere expression and said, “I sure do thank you for all this good stuff.”
One little girl told me she loved Kamp Kiwanis more than Christmas, because “I don’t get anything at Christmas.” Another girl said “they give a lot of hugs,” (hugs she did not get at home) and another said, “I think about it all the time. When is this day going to come?”
But the most poignant reminders of the importance of our camp are the children who come to camp hungry. One little boy ate three plates of food the first night at camp as he shared he had not eaten in two days. This is why you will see the dedicated members of the Kiwanis Club parking cars and selling gate tickets at the fair. This is why we love the fair.
When you visit the Davidson County Fair, step into the fair office and see a picture that was drawn by a little girl. It is a simple drawing of a dinner plate. She wrote, “The thing I like the best about Kamp Kiwanis is that I get three meals a day.” Kamp Kiwanis provides food, shelter, love and encouragement to children who need it the most—It’s like stepping back in time.
The Davidson County Fair is September 18 – 23 and I will be working the gate or I will be on the PA. I hope to see you at the Fair!