Enjoy the fair like a kid

October 3, 2012 

In early October, I come down with a “condition.” My heart beat gets faster, it is harder to sleep and I have trouble concentrating on work. This is not primarily because I am ADD (although I am). This fall condition is because the Georgia National Fair has returned.The fair will be in Perry Thursday-Oct. 14.

Since 1990, The Georgia National Fair has thrilled fairgoers from Georgia and beyond. The fair is a fun, “sense-ational” experience meant to be seen, touched, tasted, heard and enjoyed. The theme this year is Celebrate Georgia -- www.georgianationalfair.com

The entertainment at the Georgia National Fair is always superior. See the Entertainment link under Fair Tour on the above site. I enjoyed just reading the names of the acts. These just sound like they will be fun. Look to the fair for Dark Knights of the Empire, Washboard Willy (not a relative of mine), K-9s in Flight, Thank a Farmer Magic Show, Mama Lou -- American Strong Woman, the Walking Tree of Life and the Axe Women Loggers of Maine. (I think my brother dated a girl like that once!).

There are many educational events at the fair. Numerous schools and students make a field trip to the fair. Horses, sheep, swine, cattle, llama and rabbit shows, educational exhibits, 4-H, FFA and other youth contests, home and fine arts exhibits and much more make the fair an informative experience.

The Georgia National Fair also features 17 award-winning stories of agriculture. These agricultural and livestock exhibits are located throughout the fairgrounds. Fairgoers can learn about Georgia’s No. 1 industry: agriculture.

Safety is always a big emphasis at the fair. Fair management wants you to have a great, fun and safe experience. Let me remind you of one important safety tip. Although this is always important, it is even more important this year.

Animals are fun to watch. We learn a lot from these exhibits and we often get to touch the animals. After you enjoy the animals -- remember to wash your hands. Animals are clean and cared for but, just like people, they can share germs.

One of the recent concerns is a flulike virus found in pigs out west. H3N2v is a flu virus that infected pigs can share with people. There have been no cases in Georgia, but it is best to be cautious. People cannot get the disease from eating prepared pork. The symptoms are like the regular flu, but all flu can be more serious for people who are at risk of complications -- those older than 65, children younger than 5, pregnant women and people with diabetes, asthma, weakened immune systems or heart disease.

Several tips will help protect you around livestock this fall. If you are in a group that is at a high risk concerning flu, you may want to skip the swine exhibits this fall. Once you visit the animal exhibits, wash your hands well using soap and warm, running water. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. After you wash, you can also use a hand sanitizer. Some fairs are adding sanitizers in the barns. Hand sanitizer is nice, but it does not replace hand washing. Avoid taking children’s toys, strollers and pacifiers through swine barns. Watch toddlers in barns, since little ones love to put things in their mouths. For more information, go to http://tinyurl.com/dxal5g4.

The University of Georgia and youth organizations are educating young people working with livestock about ways to enjoy pigs safely. Most importantly, keep these issues in perspective. People are much more likely to contract disease from other people, poor diet, etc., than from animals, but following these precautions will help protect you while you stroll through the livestock exhibits.

Gardeners can still enter some contests in the fair. The Standard Flower Show, Rose Show, Camellia Show and Dahlia Show will be taking exhibits in the next two weeks. Check the website to see when you can take flowers to show, or go by to see what others have put on display at www.georgianationalfair.com/georgia-living-competitions.

Fairs are for more than just the children -- especially the Georgia National Fair. Plan now to visit the fair and to enjoy the fair like a child does -- with eyes full of wonder.

Willie Chance works with the University of Georgia Center for Urban Agriculture.

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