A lot has happened since last year's Canfield Fair, and while the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on America's mainland became the defining moment, this nation has emerged stronger and more unified, with a reordering of our priorities that has put family first.
Thus, the 156th Canfield Fair, which officially opened at 8 a.m. today, comes at just the right time. As a nation we're preparing to mark the one-year anniversary of that fateful day and to pay tribute to the 3,000 innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington, D.C., and western Pennsylvania.
As a region, the fair gives residents of the Mahoning Valley and elsewhere the chance to take "Pride in America." That's the theme of the six-day event, which by our account is the best county fair in the whole wide world.
All you have to do is read the special supplement The Vindicator published last Sunday and you'll get a sense of why the Canfield Fair not only has a national reputation, but is so important to the life of the Valley. The supplement offers a schedule of events and contains interesting articles about the individuals, young and old, whose dedication and commitment are deserving of the public's gratitude.
And while "fun" is the main goal of fairgoers, it is an educational experience for young people who participate in the Junior Fair. This year, there are 125 beef and dairy cattle entered, up from 66 last year. There also are more turkeys, 42, and 150 rabbits. Fair organizers have added new tents to accommodate the increase in entries.
There will be entertainment galore, food to satisfy your cravings for grease and sugar, and unusual acts -- if 400-pound North American black bears driving go-carts qualifies as unusual.
The very popular Harness Horse Races will take place on Friday evening, Saturday afternoon and Monday afternoon, but there's more to the event this year. The Canfield Harness Horsemen's Association is working with the Second Harvest Foodbank of the Mahoning in a food and cash donation drive. Foodbank and association members will collect two cans of food or cash donations in exchange for drawing tickets or dinners, theater passes and gift baskets donated by area merchants.
It is this kind of community spirit that sets the Canfield Fair apart from the others. The idea of assisting those less fortunate in our region underlies many of the activities and events. It is truly a celebration of America.