Small Town News


Success On Both Sides Of The Scale

Moapa Valley Progress of Overton, Nevada

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The Clark County Fair has come and gone for another year. After the 2009 attendance washout, the Fair desperately needed a strong, fair-weathered year. And that seems to be just what, it got. Initial reports indicate that this year's Fair was a financial success. Having commercial success at the Fair is, of course, important in keeping it a financially stable institution. But commercial gain is only one side of the scale in measuring the overall success of the Clark County Fair. The other side of the scale is just as important for the Fair to be a lasting success. That side involves the Fair's ability to stick fast to its original core values.

The Fair had its beginning over forty years ago as a purely local event, a simple small town agricultural exposition. Since then, the Fair has been able to stay connected to those same old roots. Despite the addition of a big PRCA rodeo; despite the country music superstar performances; and despite all the other commercial bells and whistles added throughout the years, the Clark County Fair is, at its heart, still a simple celebration of common rural life. It is still a rustic display of the beauty and simplicity of small town values. That is quite an accomplishment! And it continues to provide the weight on the other side of the scale that would measure the value of the Clark County Fair in an increasingly urban-oriented region.

There are many factors in the Moapa Valley community that add substance to that side of the scale. The pastoral landscape with green hay fields, healthy livestock and orderly backyard gardens, the natural color and beauty of the surrounding desert, and the general peace and quiet; all of these are deep in the roots of this small town. And each of these undoubtedly contributes a good measure to the small town flavor of the Fair.

But the most essential ingredient is probably found in the Fair's continued volunteer support. Each year the Moapa Valley community virtually shuts down for a week at Fair time. This is because most people in town are donating a tremendous amount of their time and efforts to the Fair. Putting on an event of this magnitude is a huge undertaking. But each year the immense job is successfully completed by breaking it up into hundreds of smaller tasks fit for an army of local volunteers.

The ladies of the Arts & Crafts committee (and their helpers) spend days decorating the Arts Building to prepare for the exhibits. This year this committee outdid themselves with their intricately detailed Old West themed decor. Each year this committee also recruits a troop of talented and knowledgeable volunteers to give an entire day judging all of the Arts/Craft/Food exhibit entries.

The members of the Horticultural committee start months in advance to prepare and clean the community garden at the Fairground and to train and prepare local gardeners to bring gardening entries to the exhibit.

The Small Animal exhibit coordinators and crew hold workshops months in advance to allow 4-H kids throughout the region to practice exhibiting their chickens, rabbits and other animals in the big show. These folks then spend much of the Fair weekend right there in the Small Animals Building judging the animals, awarding ribbons and seeing that everything runs smoothly.

The many organizers and volunteers behind the Junior Livestock Association started their work way back last Fall to prepare local kids for the livestock show and auction. Members of the Clark County Fair Board meet year round to plan and program for the Fair. Scarcely has one Fair ended before the Board begins making plans for the next one to come.

Finally, it takes a legion of rank and file volunteers to complete a staggering number of other essential tasks at the Fair. Staffing the information booth, selling tickets, cleaning up trash, managing the needs of performers and the stage venues, doing general public relations work, providing security and first aid, and on and on and on; most of these tasks may seem nearly invisible to the average fairgoer, but they need doing to make the Fair happen. And they are faithfully completed by a hundreds of community volunteers, year in and year out.

All of this time and effort is put in by willing community members; ordinary people who don't expect any monetary payment in return. Indeed, if the Fair had to pay wages on all of these services, it would never make ends meet. But even if it could; hiring out this multitude of jobs to a force of professionals would probably only undermine the small-town feel of the Fair. And at that point, the Fair might begin to break its long enduring link to the humble old-fashioned backwater community event from which it originated.

That community sense of vol-unteerism is at the real essence of what makes the Clark County Fair a success. After all, the ability to depend on neighbors, friends and family to pitch in and get the necessary work done is really at the root of what makes a small town special, particularly this small town. In the end, that is at the heart of what really is on display at the Clark County Fair. And that's why the Fair just wouldn't be the same anywhere else.

Yes, if it were held elsewhere in the county, the Fair might be able to swing a much larger weight over onto the commercial side of the scale. Some might consider such a purely commercial engine to be more of a success, dismissing all of that provincial blather as the foolishness of an earlier, less sophisticated, generation. But without it being firmly anchored to rural resourcefulness, small town ingenuity, down home determination, and plenty of neighborly helping hands, the Fair really wouldn't retain much value. Say what one will, people crave those things; even today. Somewhere at the heart of even the most jaded city dweller is a primeval urge to return and enjoy the simple, wholesome, quiet life of the country; if only for just a day or two. That is what the Clark County Fair offers, just as it is. And, after more than forty years, that is still the very crux of its enduring value.

Copyright 2010 Moapa Valley Progress, Overton, Nevada. All Rights Reserved. This content, including derivations, may not be stored or distributed in any manner, disseminated, published, broadcast, rewritten or reproduced without express, written consent from SmallTownPapers, Inc.

Original Publication Date: April 14, 2010

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