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Fair is Fair

July 20, 2009 | 3 Comments

Post to the Host:
I just read your article about the state fair in this month's National Geographic and loved it. I was especially touched by the section about the fair as an agricultural expo and the young people who show animals. I grew up dairy farming (I still milk cows on the family farm) and I remember showing cows at the state fair as our version of summer camp, but with a bigger purpose. Those times nurtured a lifelong pride in being fortunate enough to call myself a farmer. I've always admired your prose (I was an English major in college) and it's a treat for you to pay tribute to our profession this way.

Thank you.

Bret C.
Dousman, WI


You are indeed an English major, Bret, and your letter is one of the few in the history of PTTH that I did not edit even so much as a comma. How could one not be moved by the sight of teenagers showing their animals at the state fair? I especially remember the llamas at the Iowa State Fair and the tenderness between this large gentle and somewhat ludicrous animal and the girls who had raised them, slender Iowa farm girls stroking the long llama neck and looking into its big brown eyes. The Iowa fair was a beautiful thing.


Even as a small child, I wasn't thrilled over the carnival rides and the noise of the midway, I wanted to go to the barns. The cows standing there placidly chewing their feed while children one tenth their size admired them. The pigs and the sheep made us laugh and gave us knowledge of how our food and clothing came from these animals.

I went to the Marathon County Fair in Wisconsin many years till I moved to CA in 1967. I have been to the California State Fair, and the MN State Fair since then and still love the barns.

Thank you for your wonderful story of fairs and the love that draws us back.

Ann Nienow Bowen

Mr. Keillor, we are so enamored with your love of our favorite fair animal, the llama, we would love to have you come visit our farm in east-central Iowa. Our daughter was one of the "slender Iowa farm girls" at last year's fair you referenced and she does indeed have a strong relationship with her llama. Like her parents, she loves to share her llama knowledge and had her llama out of it's cage as she was answering the questions of the many fairgoers who stopped by allowing many their first chance to touch and pet a llama. We believe they are kindred spirits who occasionally exhibit identical teenage moods which can conflict in the show ring. Regardless, they are each other's best friend and we would love to share more of their relationship and llama life in general with you. This years (2009) Iowa State Fair llama show will be Saturday, August 22nd and Sunday, August 23rd. We'd love to see you there! [Steve Auld; Aulds' Lluminous Llamas; Van Horne, IA]

Hi, GK!
I'm visiting my ladyfriend here in Kilkenny, Ireland and was delighted to see that you will be one of the speakers at the Arts Festival. I normally never miss a PHC program when I'm home, but they aren't broadcast here in Ireland. Seeing and hearing you on August 14 will partially fill that void! Not many Lutherans here, unfortunately and the deli doesn't carry lutefisk, but aside from that Kilkenny is grand!

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