Even the hogs wanted to sing the National Anthem. Who could blame them? It was fair time. Everybody yearned to voice their emotions and patriotism last week during the 93rd annual Grant County Fair.
On Thursday night, amid a chorus of livestock squeals, a crowd saluted the American flag and sang along to the National Anthem. They did so in the most American of places - a livestock arena at a county fairgrounds. A dedication ceremony for Grant County's new Heritage Building christened a labor of love for the community. For citizens at large, the ceremony also gave voice to a stubborn pride and unbowed defiance to the powers that be.
Let those judges in San Francisco wave their gavels. Those controversial two words, "under God," rang out with extra emphasis as the crowd recited the Pledge of Allegiance in the Heritage Building.
The fair, an annual rite of passage, resounded this year with more independence and exuberance than in years past. Theme of the fair was "Red, White and Blue, This Fair's for You." The Heritage Building, an accomplishment surpassing all expectations, took center stage, and rightly so. This building, as Rep. Greg Walden observed, is destined to become the envy of all 19 other counties in his congressional district.
Even a one-hour delay to start the dedication ceremony fit perfectly with the setting. Cattle judging in the show ring ran long. As the crowd waited patiently, children and a few adults escorted their prize breeds into the pen under the scrutiny of judge Tom Ayres of Haines. After Ayres had finished his livestock-judging duties, he praised the quality of beef on display.
"It's a tribute to the producers and exhibitors," he said. "Kids do the best job in Grant County of any county in the state of Oregon."
Kids and, yes, even adults. On the 100th birthday of the 4-H program in America, what better present could Grant County give than a building like the Heritage Building?
Now if we could just teach those hogs to sing on key.
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