The Johnson County Fair runs July 25-28 and it’s my favorite week of the year. I grew up at the Johnson County Fair. My Mom was a 4-H leader, served on the Fair Board and 4-H Youth Committee and was the Home Economics Superintendent for many years. I spent many a happy day playing on the steps in Montgomery Hall, enjoying Lemonade Shake-ups, and getting tossed into the livestock watering tanks. What wonderful memories of growing up in Iowa!
Over the past 18 years, while working at the Iowa City Public Library, I’ve had the privilege of working with the Public Libraries of Johnson County to organize and staff a booth in Building B where we share information about our libraries with the community. The Public Libraries of Johnson County organization reminds me a lot of the 4-H organization and Johnson County Agricultural Association: We focus on youth development, share in the joy of learning by doing, and recognize while we may come from different places we all contribute to the civic life of our community.
The Fair was always a highlight of summer and an opportunity to meet with friends and neighbors. It was a time when we received feedback about our work on projects and a pat on the back from the mentors we looked up to. Sometimes we were disappointed (my Dog didn’t heal off-lead when there were distractions from the crowd) and sometimes we celebrated (I had the Grand Champion Rabbit in 1977). There were many life lessons and a community of people who cared. If you are interested in the history of the Johnson County Fair, check out this compilation I created for the Iowa 4-H Foundation at this link.
This morning I met a longtime friend at the fairgrounds and we reminisced about our Moms and the dedication they had to the Fair. We also reflected on what we learned from them: love of community, civic engagement, responsibility to make things happen, and service. “I pledge my head to clearer thinking, my heart to greater loyalty, my hands to larger service, my health to better living, for my club, my community, my country, and my world.” Cheers to the Fair, cheers to Libraries, cheers to the 4-H program, and cheers to our Moms. I’ll see you at the Fair!