The county fair is on this week– seven days of community-wide activities, including, but not limited to:
- Carnival rides
- Exhibits of home arts, fine arts, craft items, and locally grown produce
- Carnival food booths– pulled pork, corn dogs, elephant ears, ice cream, sno-cones, cotton candy, caramel corn, sausages on sticks, fried cheese curds, fried veggies (with ranch dip), cinnamon buns, fruit slushes and “shake-ups”, pizza, steak wraps, fried rice, tamales and burritos, craft root beer, funnel cakes, popcorn, caramel apples, and so much more to choose from!
- Farm animals on display everywhere– pigs, chickens, cows, horses, ducks, geese, turkeys, goats, sheep, rabbits, pigeons, cats, a burro, an emu, and probably more that I missed–perhaps a mule or an alpaca!
- Youth competitions for animal showmanship, arts and crafts, etc.
- A quilting competition
- Commercial and community booths featuring local businesses, churches, political groups, schools, and services
- Tractor pulls, horse pulls, Motocross, a Demolition Derby, and a Monster Truck show
- Free live entertainment venues
- Antique and new tractors on display
- People– lots of people…some of them who live in the area, and some who visit from neighboring counties and states.
What does the County Fair have to do with prayer? I suppose for some, there is no connection. For me, there are two ways prayer goes hand in hand with the County Fair:
- The local Fair is a long-standing tradition, tying the community together and celebrating its heritage and hope for the future. All around the fairgrounds, there are banners and plaques honoring people who have given of their time and talent to this community– farmers, teachers, civic leaders, doctors, police officers, pastors, donors, veterinarians, business owners, parents, coaches, and helpers. In each generation, people pass on their knowledge, enthusiasm, passion, and excellence to those who will use it, expand on it, modify it, and pass it along to others. In the same way, prayer warriors of the past have inspired and led people to the knowledge and love of Christ– many of the names at the fair represent people who poured love into, and prayed for my generation. They discipled, taught, cared for, and inspired me and so many others. We don’t worship them as idols or honor them in place of God, but we honor the way God used their lives as examples for us to follow. Even those who were not Christ-followers had talents and wisdom that they shared, and God used, to help others. This is a tradition worth celebrating, remembering, and continuing.
- The County Fair is a great place to see people I know but don’t always get to talk to
- Classmates from school I haven’t seen in ages.
- “Children” (now grown with children of their own) I used to babysit.
- Former students, from when I was a schoolteacher.
- Former neighbors, friends of my family, and people I knew from the church I attended as a child.
- Family and extended family who still live in various parts of the county or surrounding counties.
- People for whom I have been praying– because I have heard of their needs or seen an e-mail or FB post or talked to a concerned family member.
- What an honor and a privilege to spend time (even a short minute or two) to catch up, encourage and be encouraged, or even share a smile or a memory! I might meet up with someone who needs a hug, a simple assurance, or even an “on the spot” prayer. I might also have the opportunity to reconnect, restore a relationship, or even meet a new friend. In addition, I see exhibits with names of people I know– people I can be praying for with joy and gratitude for all that they mean or have meant in my life.
I hope, for anyone reading this, that you can think of times or opportunities when you can connect, reconnect, or form connections with others in your community. Think of ways others have challenged, inspired, or encouraged you. Take a minute to lift them up in prayer, and, if you have the chance, to pass on (or back) some of what they have given you along the way. Imagine what even the smallest connection can do to spread God’s love to others.