Well... local fair have wrapped up for another year. Fairgrounds in Marion, Big Rapids, and Evart are virtually empty after a short but exceptionally intense period of activity. Fair board members are putting their feet up for a day or two before heading back to the drawing board and starting to line up next year\u2019s week-long session. 4-H organizers and club leaders are finally breathing a sigh of relief after a frantic week of seemingly non-stop action. 4-H kids have gone home and are considering what to do with auction and premium earnings, and what to raise for next year\u2019s fair. Our county fairs, and fairs in neighboring counties as well, offer an interesting view of life. Adults and young people alike work and plan all year long for what often is an astonishingly short appearance in the show ring, arena, or exhibit barn. So much planning. So much anticipation. So much fun. And then... they start all over again getting ready for next year. The period immediately following the fair has become one in which I \u201ctraditionally\u201d take a few inches of space in our newspapers to salute a very special type of person \u2014 the 4-Her\u2019s in this and neighboring counties and, indeed, throughout the state. We live in a time, a society, and a general environment in which it is far, far too easy to gripe and grown about \u201c... those kids today.\u201d I regularly hear complaints about everything from \u201c... their music\u201d to \u201c... they can\u2019t count down change.\u201d In so many ways we\u2019ve become a nation of grumpy old folks philosophically shaking our fists and yelling \u201cGet off my lawn!\u201d But there are so many good kids out \u201cthere\u201d doing good things. 4-H, s\u2019il vous pla\u00eet. I\u2019ve written the praises of 4-H and the kids involved with that program before. I will probably do so again. Every time I\u2019ve been lucky enough to spend time at the fairgrounds during fair time, I have walked away admiring the work ethic, cooperative spirit, common decency, and just good neighbor-esque attitude of the kids passing through the 4-H program. Good kids doing good things. They work hard to bring a project to the fair. They work very hard to see their efforts come to fruition. Hard work with a goal in mind. But when they show up at the fair full of a good healthy competitive drive, they also show up knowing there are going to be others who need their help. Older kids are constantly reaching out and helping those younger. More experienced showmen and women don\u2019t even hesitate to teach the \u201ctricks\u201d of the ring to those with less arena savvy \u2014 even at the expense of giving the \u201ccompetition\u201d a potential edge. They work in the barns as a unit \u2014 all for one, and one for all. Then in the arena or at the judging tables, they are on their own. Hoping to shine a little brighter than the next competitor, but helping those before or after to be the best they can as well. The decency of these kids \u2014 covered in dust and muck, and hauling critters big and small from point to point with incredible confidence \u2014 is simply a inspiration. They muck out their own barn stalls and clean their own animals, then turn around and start all over again while helping someone who just isn\u2019t managing quite as well. Their projects whether in the ring or displayed in the exhibit halls are the work of their hands \u2014 the result of planning and effort. These are kids who not only know where their food comes from, but also show visitors \u2014 perhaps a little naive \u2014 that meat and poultry doesn\u2019t just appear wrapped in cellophane on molded Styrofoam trays. Food is raised on farms \u2014 and respected. Milk, meat, vegetables, and fruit are all the results of hard, hard work by individuals and families who often have been \u201cat the plow\u201d for generations and who often have also been generational 4-Hers. Club members, Club leaders. Program organizers. I go to the fairs every year, and every year walk away once again inspired by these people \u2014 but especially by the kids. They make me smile. 4-H kids at the fair give me a bit more confidence in the future. They offer promise to our community, state, and nation. That reassure me that when we old folks are left scratching our heads and wondering what the heck is going on in the world today, there are a huge number of kids out there who know what\u2019s going on, will be able to take over and lead in the future, and who will pass on their knowledge and ability to those coming up a few rungs down the ladder. Gosh, I love the county fair. It is on this stage that I see real hope for the future.