There’s no reason to leave town this weekend – not with the Johnson County Fair firing hotter than the temperatures. Hopefully the heat won’t keep people away from what for many former local youth is a right-of-passage. Every kid should get to spend one evening each summer at a county fair.
The scent of funnel cakes and hot dogs and hamburgers off the grill mingled with the not-so-pleasant aroma of farm animals always jogs the mind back to fairs of yesterday. Not much has changed with the exception of more people and fewer familiar faces. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Johnson County is growing – most noticeably in the southern parts, where in years gone by, the fair was a time to re-connect with neighbors over a hamburger at the Junior Fair Stand or the 4-H Concession Stand during the waning summer evenings. Now it’s a time for those new to this community to get a feel for what small town fun really is.
It isn’t running to Olathe to see a movie. It isn’t slipping out for a fancy dinner.
It’s wandering through the animal barns at the Johnson County Fair and listening to local bands on the Midway Stage. It’s saying hello to the people who live down the street and around the corner while standing in line for the Ferris Wheel.
The Johnson County Fair is the perfect time for those new to town in the last decade – and that’s approximately 60 percent of the community – to get into the swing of small town living. That’s the main attraction for towns like Gardner, Edgerton and Spring Hill.
For those newer residents, it may come as a surprise to learn that there’s more to Gardner than in-fighting over the city hall developments. All those neighbors arguing in driveways about city government should get a feel for how this once-close-knit community really thrived – on love for their neighbors and shared funnel cakes.
With fair week steaming to a close for another year, now is the perfect time to get involved. That goes for businesses in town as well.
On Saturday, thousands of people will line the streets of downtown Gardner to watch the Johnson County Fair Parade. They’ll crowd onto the bleachers downtown, linger on the sidewalks and set up blankets and lawn chairs along the parade route.
Hopefully, they’ll say, “howdy” to the strangers sitting next to them, and they’ll laugh and cheer as the floats and marching band charge down the streets.
Here’s hoping you’ll be out waving from a float or chatting with the stranger next to you in line for a carnival ride or a snow cone.
There are still a few days of the Johnson County Fair left.
Enjoy the fair.