Rep. Joe Schmick: Rural fairs provide unique, heartfelt community support
It's often said that living a rural lifestyle is a choice, which of course has its unique set of challenges and benefits. When individuals and families across out state come together each year to participate in all the activities offered by local fairs, our communities experience both.
The camaraderie and community spirit that allows our youth to showcase their hard work, dedication and projects through organizations like FFA, 4-H and others, is often offset by the continual degradation of the state's fair fund, which helps put on these important events. While I have always – and will always – fight in the Legislature to keep this fund healthy and intact, the importance of our local fairs was once again brought home to me recently in a real and personal way.
At the Palouse Empire Fair in Colfax, a typical youth auction was taking place. Unbeknownst to many in attendance and bidding, one young man had very recently lost his father. The winning bidder for this youth's sheep announced he wanted to donate his newly purchased stock back up for auction, with the proceeds going to this young man and his family. As the bids rolled in and the dollars raised went up, the tears streamed down – in the eyes of the family being blessed, and in the eyes of so many who were touched by the generosity of their friends and neighbors. In the end, after several rounds of winning and rebidding, over $20,000 was raised. This, in a county were the median income hovers around $40,000.
You don't experience something like that and go unchanged. Yes, living a rural lifestyle is a choice. So is fighting in Olympia for the funds needed to continue the good that our local fairs impart into our communities.
I'll take this experience with me to the Legislature and when I'm trying to convince my legislative colleagues on the West side of the state of the need to keep the state's fair fund fully funded, I'll remember the damp eyes and generous actions of my local community.
Joe Schmick, R-Colfax
9th Legislative District