Enjoyable fair opportunities provide healthful activities

Over the past summers I have enjoyed using this column to discuss the healthful aspects of life’s opportunities which are presented to us in our local and state environment. For example, we have enjoyed another season of the Marshall City Band concerts in Liberty Park; thanks again to Mr. Meffert and his musicians for their efforts and expertise — and maybe a little musical therapy for all of us! Other events continue to provide us with other cultural aspects many of us enjoy.

The Lyon County Fair and its activities again provide us with summer entertainment and the opportunity to visit our fellow Lyon County residents and see their skills on display. Our 4-H and Open Class participants reflect their interests in the animals and projects displayed and give us some insight into the thoughts of the next generation. Be sure to see the medical and veterinary projects; they are often very educational and show practical knowledge. No doubt some medical information and services will be available for your review. There is always a lot to see — and eat — at the Lyon County Fair!

As we anticipate the experiences of our Lyon County Fair, we see the promotions and advertising for the upcoming Minnesota State Fair appearing in the media. Each weekend since June, the Independent staff has kept us informed and provided the sights of the surrounding city and county festivals, cultural experiences often unappreciated by some of us. Remind yourself to make an effort to attend these special events this summer and in the future. Often we need to get “out of ourselves” and into the experiences of others in our communities.

Fairs have been a part of our culture for centuries. Especially in agricultural areas, these seasonal gatherings have served as showplaces for agriculture, celebrations of harvest, religious feasts, historical commemorations, commercial events, and generally culturally significant passages for personal growth. One of the earliest fairs was associated with the Church of St. Bartholomew in Smithfield, London, where the “Cloth Fair” began in the 12th century and was regularly celebrated until the mid-19th century. The street next to the church retains its name as “Cloth Fair.” Once located in the most tumultuous and historic part of London, it is now in a peaceful residential part of central London. Its evocative buildings and lanes have survived both the Great Fire of 1666 and the “Blitz” of WWII. In close proximity to “Cloth Fair” and the church is St. Bartholomew’s Hospital, founded in 1123 and still one of London’s major hospitals.

Reflecting a contemporary theme, I have noticed with interest that several programs of the modern British mystery series “Midsomer Murders” center around a local fete, celebration, or fair occurring during the stories.

This early medical association with fairs is still reflected in our modern agricultural and commercial events. In my experiences attending fairs, especially the Minnesota State Fair, I have noticed a greater prominence of exhibits promoting medical products and services in the past 10 years than in the previous 40 years. Why the change? Several factors come to mind: increased medical advertising, promotion of ancillary services born of increasing technology, increasing populations of users of medical care, and the increasing roles of insurances, including Medicare and Medicaid. Medicine is “Big Business,” and we all need it and need to know more about it. Past outbreaks of infectious diseases among fair participants (4-H) and animal exhibitors have bought renewed caution at the fair and even preventive measures such as hand sanitizers to the animal barns.

Undoubtedly, many readers will be visiting the 2017 Minnesota State Fair. Be sure to participate in the many medical aspects of the fair, perhaps hopefully avoiding the First Aid building and the “thrilling experiences” of some rides. Areas of medical interest provide information and gifts designed to encourage interest in personal and population health care. Blue Cross/Blue Shield, U-Care, and Medtronic usually provide large displays, and the Minnesota Department of Health and other medical groups and societies located in the Education Building educate and promote local health care and society-specific issues. Often there is an ongoing Health Fair which provides many services right at the fair. Check the University of Minnesota exhibit in the Crossroads Building for health information from the Health Sciences schools. Remember, however, that these “Health Fairs” are really for patient information, not treatment of illnesses.

Of course you are wondering about the medical/nutritional/caloric aspects of that widely popular aspect of the fair — the food! Some of the notable foods from past years include hot dogs of all descriptions, calamari, Uffda brats, and Spam Galore; on-a-stick treats are Kool-Aid pickles, sloppy joes, corned beef and cabbage, s’mores, fried ice cream, fried candy bars and Twinkies! The french fries stands will be back! My advice and that of my dietary consultants and fellow Independent food columnists Cheryl Rude and Rachelle Deutz continues to hold true: “Use moderation in enjoying those one-time-a-year delights!”

Perhaps it is the time of the year, the weather, the food, the people, the ambience — everybody is usually smiling at these fairs and events! Fairs are fun, exciting, and generally healthful for body and soul!