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Postcard from the Past: The Educational Value of the Wyoming State Fair

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

An article by G. W. Hervey in the September 1910 issue of the Wyoming Industrial Journal, in part, notes:

The agricultural fair from its earliest inception was based upon the principle of comparison and the exhibition of the best. 

This incentive to a friendly rivalship in contest has been the stimulating influence, which has given the agricultural fair its educational bearings and has placed a premium upon excellence in quality as a just recognition of merit. 

The ambition of man to excel in ownership and production is only exceeded by his ambition to acquire knowledge.

The agricultural fair and exposition is the setting forth of things acquired, the presentation of principles in animal and plant breeding, growth and development involving improvement. 

The fair is the great demonstration station where experimenters and experts in various lines of agricultural and industrial enterprise, congregate annually to report their achievements and measure by comparison for the degree of merit to which each is entitled. 

The fair is the prompter, or the promoter, in fact, which sows the seed of contest in the mind of man and creates ambition within the ambitious to become aggressive rivals in production of the very best that the skill and ingenuity of intelligent man can cause to be brought forth as breeder, grower or manufacturer.

The agricultural fair is becoming more and more a community necessity.

The agriculture fair stands for thrift, industry, enterprise and all that means advancement, progress and the building up of the commercial and manufacturing interests of the country or community in which it is located. 

The agricultural fair might be said to represent the outgrowth of intelligence and agricultural progress which this particular community has attained.

The agricultural fair, to be true to its name and purpose, should be an educational exhibition in all of its departments and features. The tendency now throughout all agricultural communities is toward education – not exactly education in the knowledge of books, but in a knowledge of things and in the operation of methods and their results. 

The agricultural fair should be so planned and so directed in all of its exhibition features as to present the instructive and educational aspect of the display to the eye of the public. The trained exhibitor will always present most prominently the suggestive features of his display in order to enlist the attention of the visitor, the sightseer and/or the inquirer for information.

The agricultural fair in all its departments should be suggestive of the possibilities of the highest degree of excellence to be attained in the particular branch or line of product displayed.

The agricultural fair built upon the principles outlined and conscientiously guarded in every feature and form of exhibit and concession, so nothing admitted to the fairgrounds or remains on exhibition or in operation under its sanction is not meritorious as a clean and creditable amusement or entertainment feature, cannot but merit and receive the commendation and approval of intelligent people.

The educational influence the fair is exerting upon the mind of the public is a strong factor in support of this principle of training. The fair is increasing in popularity among the people because of the advantages it is capable of offering in the higher ideals of excellence in every form of production and manufacture.

In order to obtain the greatest educational advantage from the agricultural fair, it is necessary every feature of exhibition, amusement and entertainment introduced upon the fairgrounds be of an educational tendency, of a character and influence capable of appealing to the finer sensibilities of its patrons. 

Each department on the fairgrounds should become educational within itself by being under the supervision of a skilled and trained instructor in the special work or industry in charge, thus affording visitors the advantage of capable and qualified persons to answer intelligently any and all questions pertaining to the work or industry. 

This is the foundation principle upon which the educational fair is built.

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