We all have that moment. A sense of accomplishment when our hard work pays off. For me, showing Berkshires at county and state fairs in my native Oklahoma when I was young was an important lesson in discipline and purpose. I grew up in a farming community that had more fertile farm land and worn-in boots than automobiles and diners. That was heartland for my family and our hearts were in agriculture.
As agriculture fairs and shows go – and I’ve seen a lot – ours at the Kentucky State Fair is quite unique.
The Kentucky State Fair, just as we have done since the very first gathering more than 100 years ago, captures the human impulse to take stock in what we’ve accomplished and celebrate what makes us special. And agriculture is at the forefront of that.
Agriculture is a social institution and we have a great responsibility to uphold in continuing its presence at the Fair.
Those of us in the agriculture field, however indirect, are very fortunate. Not only do we get to celebrate and honor the enduring tradition of our state’s first industry, we get to advocate and promote its future. Events like the Kentucky State Fair continue to be a public asset that contributes to development and awareness of agriculture in Kentucky.
The process of farmers passing down their life’s work to the next generation is so important to the future of Kentucky. And we cherish events like the 4-H and FFA Sale of Champions, Largest Pumpkin Contest and the World’s Championship Horse Show that are so crucial to this tradition.
While it is true that we have to keep up with the evolving entertainment trends and first-rate acts, we continue to be proud of keeping agriculture as a main selling point.
If there is to be a future for agriculture in Kentucky, it must be planned, promoted and sold to a different generation. A generation that relies on tweets, videos and television.
The Kentucky State Fair is not a choice between agriculture and entertainment, a so-called old way and new, rural or urban. It is a balance of both; a fundamental celebration of all things that make Kentucky work, play and grow. And the direction that we follow to promote and celebrate agriculture is going to have an impact not just on our lives, but on our children’s lives and our grandchildren’s lives for decades to come.
Clifford “Rip” Rippetoe
President/CEO of the Kentucky State Fair Board
Created on July 23, 2013