We Go To The Sheridan County Fair In Hoxie, Kansas
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Next, we have a slice of summer in the United States. We're going to the Great Plains to a county fair because sometimes you just should drop by the county fair, which Frank Morris of member station KCUR got to attend.
FRANK MORRIS, BYLINE: At the Sheridan County Fair in Hoxie, Kan., the Elks Club runs the Ferris wheel, the Rotary Club runs the little car ride, and the volunteer fire department takes care of the big attraction.
ED CONARD: You bet. We enjoy this every year. And our department has always been in charge of the Tilt-A-Whirl back here.
MORRIS: Ed Conard, volunteer firefighter, is 65, just a hair older than the ride he's standing by.
CONARD: Yeah. It seems to be working real good.
MORRIS: Looks like it's got a few years on it.
CONARD: I think this was probably back in the '50s, but it's just a matter of maintaining it every year.
MORRIS: These fairs also maintain tradition - generation after generation flocking to the fairgrounds, the same rides and the same 4-H Club livestock competitions.
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KAMI MILLER: (Laughter) This is the pig barn. People are just getting everything for put in. And they're getting their pigs clipped for the fair.
MORRIS: Kami Miller is a former champ here supporting younger siblings. She's 19, too old to compete. But little kids are working hard, some leading thousand-pound animals into the barn, others lugging manure out of it, most wearing jeans and boots in hundred-degree weather. Eight-year-old Carley Cooper sports a big grin.
CARLEY: I'm showing a pig, a bucket calf and a second-year bucket calf.
MORRIS: That is a little calf, a big calf and her favorite - a hefty looking black-and-white pig.
CARLEY: Right here. That one right back there.
MORRIS: So what's your pig's name?
CARLEY: Well, he bites.
MORRIS: A hundred and ten miles straight south of Hoxie, in Cimarron, Kan., the Gray County Fair is in full swing.
DARREN GLENN: I love county fairs. It's always so much fun.
MORRIS: Darren Glenn never misses it.
GLENN: Absolutely. Hell, I remember when, you know, when I was a kid, had the Tilt-A-Whirl or just rides like this, you know. I still ride them, you know. It's still fun.
MORRIS: That's the striking thing. Somehow, with all the modern amusements to compete with, these little fairs are going strong. Karen Burns, here with her grandkids, says solidarity has something to do with it.
KAREN BURNS: This is a very close-knit little community, and our whole county is that way. There's not that many of us. We have to stick together.
MORRIS: Gazing across the midway at dusk, Burns says she knows just about everyone here and not in a passing way.
BURNS: Yeah. I know these kids' parents, their grandparents, their children. You know, we've known people for generations. And it makes a difference. Yeah, it's good. I don't know. It's good life. I wouldn't trade it.
MORRIS: For NPR News, I'm Frank Morris.
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