Here in the Midwest, it’s that time of year when many communities celebrate the county fair.

County fairs are as American as it gets. It’s a rite of passage, a good way to say goodbye to summer.

The fair is the one place where you’re expected to indulge in junk food, people-watching, and games of chance to win trinkets you normally wouldn’t want if they were free.

The Stark County Fair grandstand has played host to the good: Garth Brooks and the former Dixie Chicks; the bad: in the form of oldies-circuit rock acts; and the ugly, like the night more people were fighting than were watching the Spin Doctors concert.

Needless to say, this year’s fair, like pretty much everything else, has been waylaid by the coronavirus.

It’s one more donkey kick in a year that’s been a cross between “The Hunger Games” and “Mystery Science Theater 3000.”

However, 2020 has gone out of its way to ensure we won’t miss terror-inducing moments like those produced by rickety midway rides, or that feeling of doom that occurs when you step into a pile of horse droppings in sandals.

Like a sideshow, some events taking place in 2020 have been downright curiosities, from the fight over made-in-China Confederate flags, to phony claims of quack cures for COVID-19 that would make a carnival barker weep with envy, to an endless procession of conspiracy theories and falsity, not unlike the girl-to-gorilla sideshow that we knew was fake, yet still sent us screaming onto the midway.

The year 2020 has been like suddenly realizing that the people in charge are a lot like those who operate the carnival rides: Though many seem sketchy and not even remotely qualified, they somehow ended up with your life in their hands.

In 2020, who needs to wrestle a greased pig when there’s Facebook?

The demolition derby has been replaced by looting, rioting and brawling in grocery stores over masks and social distancing.

The current state of the union has been like buying food from trailers, made by people who are only passing through town: You can only hope they’re motivated enough to do the right thing, and that it all will work out for the best.

The fair has never fallen out of fashion because it was created to showcase the best of a community and its hardworking, honest people. They simply ask for a few days to celebrate.

If there’s any consolation, the Stark County Junior Fair will go on, but it won’t be open to the public.

It’s too bad for the rest of us, but the kids work hard all year and deserve their moment.

Who needs the fair? Well, we do. It’s one more thing that grounds and connects us to normalcy and to one another.

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Charita M. Goshay is a nationally syndicated columnist for Gatehouse News Service. She is a native of Canton, Ohio, and a graduate of Kent State University where she majored in communications. Goshay has been employed at the Canton Repository since 1990. She can be reached at


I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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