After enduring the very wet spring of 2014, we have enjoyed another season of the Marshall City Band concerts in Liberty Park. Thanks again and accolades to Mr. Bob Meffert and his musicians, guests, the city of Marshall, and MAFAC for their efforts and expertise in providing a musical therapy for all of us!
This past week, the Lyon County Fair and its activities have brought us enjoyment, summer entertainment and the opportunity to visit our fellow Lyon County residents and see their skills on display. Our 4-H participants reflect their interests in the animals and the projects displayed and give us some insight into the thoughts of the next generation. Of course, be sure to see the 4-H medical and veterinary projects; they are often very educational and show practical knowledge. No doubt some medical information will be available for your review! The Lyon County Historical Society is featuring some local aspects of World War I in its building. There is always a lot to see and eat at the Fair!
Having enjoyed the Lyon County Fair, we remember the local fairs and celebrations of June and July and anticipate the upcoming celebrations in Ghent, Hanley Falls, Marshall, Tracy and Minneota. These events not only reflect the interests and "labor of love" by local citizens in celebrating their civic pride but they provide insight and education into the local environment
and its citizens. Often we need to get "out of ourselves" and into the experiences of others in our local communities.
Fairs have been a part of our culture for centuries. Especially in agricultural areas, these seasonal gatherings have served as showplaces for agriculture, celebrations of harvest, religious feasts, historical commemorations, commercial events, and generally culturally significant passages for personal growth. One of the earliest fairs was associated with the Church of St. Bartholomew in Smithfield, London, where the "Cloth Fair" began in the 12th century and was regularly celebrated until the mid-19th century. The street next to the church retains its name as "Cloth Fair." Once located in the most tumultuous and historic part of London, it is now in a peaceful residential part of central London. Its evocative buildings and lanes have survived both the Great Fire of 1666 and the "Blitz" of WWII. In close proximity to "Cloth Fair" and the church is St. Bartholomew's Hospital, founded in 1123 and still one of London's major hospitals.
Reflecting a contemporary theme, I have noticed with interest that several programs of the modern British mystery series "Midsomer Murders" center on a local fete, celebration, or fair occurring during the story.
This early medical association with fairs is still reflected in our modern agricultural and commercial events. In my experiences attending fairs, especially the Minnesota State Fair, I have noticed a greater prominence of exhibits promoting medical products and services in the past 10 years than in the previous 40 years. Why the change? Several factors come to mind: increased medical advertising, promotion of ancillary services born of increasing technology, increasing populations of users of medical care, and the increasing roles of insurances, including Medicare, Medicaid and "Obama Care." Medicine is "Big Business," and we all need it and need to know more about it. Recent outbreaks of infectious diseases among fair participants (4-H) and animal exhibitors have bought renewed caution at the fair and even preventive measures such as hand sanitizers to the animal barns.
Undoubtedly, many readers will be visiting the 2014 Minnesota State Fair. Be sure to participate in the many medical aspects of the fair, perhaps best avoiding the First Aid building and the "thrilling experiences" of some rides. Areas of medical interest provide information and gifts designed to encourage interest in personal and population health care. Blue Cross/Blue Shield, U-Care, and Metronic usually provide large displays, and the Minnesota Department of Health and other medical groups and societies located in the Education Building educate and promote local health care and society-specific issues. Often there is an ongoing Health Fair which provides many services right at the fair. Check the University of Minnesota exhibit in the Crossroads Building for health information from the Health Sciences schools. The "Quit Plan" for cigarette smokers is available outside the Crossroads building.
Of course, you are wondering about the medical, nutritional and caloric aspects of that widely popular aspect of the fairThe food! Some of the notable foods from past years include hot dogs of all descriptions, calamari, Uffda brats, and Spam Galore; on-a-stick treats are Kool-Aid pickles, sloppy joes, corned beef and cabbage, s'mores, fried ice cream, fried candy bars and Twinkies! This year's Fair features 28 new items, including: Juicy LuLu, Lobster on a Stick, Chocolate Dessert Salami, and a Toasted Waffle Ice Cream Sandwich. My advice and that of my dietary consultants and fellow Independent columnists continue to hold true: "Use moderation in enjoying those one-time-a-year delights!"
Perhaps it is the time of the year, the weather, the food, the people, the ambienceI usually see everyone smiling! Fairs are fun, exciting, and generally healthful for body and soul!