It’s that time of year when fairgrounds all around the country come alive with the sights, smells and sounds of fun, food and entertainment.

County fair time is upon us. The Fayette County Fair officially opened yesterday, followed by the same annual event in Greene, Washington and Westmoreland counties in the coming weeks.

There is always a jam-packed line up filled with musical entertainment, fair food, demonstrations, contests, rides, derbies and games. But the county fairs provide an even greater importance in each area — the opportunity for education in the industry of agriculture, which is the main focus of every county fair in Pennsylvania.

County fairs serve as showcases not only for agriculture, but for horticulture and tourism. There are lessons to be learned about everything from how livestock is raised to the production of hay and grain, vegetables, fruits and nuts to perfecting baked and canned goods.

It is, in fact, these types of events that allow Southwestern Pennsylvania residents to really take root in where they call home and renew a sense of pride of where they live.

In the day of video games and other rapidly advancing technologies, it is important that we continually educate our youth about the world of agriculture, which happens to be one of the top industries in the state of Pennsylvania. It’s a chance to show our youth the importance of appreciating the land around them, how the industry benefits them now and will in the future, and to open their eyes to the possibilities as they grow older. They are lessons that cannot be found in any Xbox game or phone app.

As adults, it is our responsibility to plant as many of those seeds of knowledge for our children as we possibly can.

County fairs also lend an opportunity to those participating in 4-H, America’s largest youth development organization, to learn the value of hard work, sacrifice and even team participation. Months before opening day, youths spend countless hours preparing animals, produce, clothing and other items to be showcased, judged and, oftentimes, sold at the county fair. It’s hard work that most certainly pays off in the end. It is learning in process, from start to finish. Those are valuable lessons for youngsters no matter what occupation they may have their sights on.

“4-H was founded on the belief that when kids are empowered to pursue their passions and chart their own course, their unique skills grow and take shape, helping them to become true leaders in their lives, careers and communities,’’ noted officials from the Penn State Extension, which operates the program in the state.

We can all agree that is the direction in which we are hoping to push our future.

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