When the weather starts to cool, I begin thinking more and more about the North Carolina State Fair, which takes place this year Oct. 13-23. The fair has become an important part of my fall season during my years here. Still, let’s face it: it is a somewhat hazardous part of the fall season, too. There’s the traffic, for example, which does more damage to my general state of calm than I like to admit. And, of course, there’s the food. Oh, the food. Whether it’s chocolate-covered bacon, deep fried Twinkies, or the bacon double-cheese burger served on two doughnuts instead of a bun (a favorite among my friends), the food is as dangerous as it is delicious.
Despite these hazards, the State Fair has some wonderful opportunities as well, especially for church communities. Attending as a faith group can be a bonding activity for church members. On a deeper level, the fair is an opportunity to teach about all of God’s creations, from plants and animals to our planet, and our responsibility to care for these creations. It can also be a chance to explore food and healthy eating, and how our bodies are a temple.
Below are just a few ideas that individuals or church groups can use to explore these opportunities:
- Arrange a carpool or take public transportation to the fair. If your church has a church vehicle, this is an excellent time to use it. Carpooling or taking public transportation is a fun way to enjoy time with others, keep down traffic, and help the environment!
- Don’t look for the closest spot to the fair entrance. Instead, try parking farther away. The extra bit of walking will be good exercise, and you will save yourself the time and frustration of trying to find the elusive “perfect spot.” Plus, the less you run your car, the fewer emissions your car will contribute to the atmosphere.
- Visit the exhibits! The Fair has some great ones coming up, according to their website. These exhibits are an excellent opportunity to talk to farm workers, performers, and craftsmen about what they do and learn how important their work is to our state. Just a few of these are:
- “Field of Dreams,” where visitors can learn more about the connection between farms and the dinner table;
- “Got to Be NC Agriculture,” where you can see and buy a number of local products, as well as get information on how to support local industry;
- “State Fair Ark Animals,” where visitors can learn more about the farm animals raised in North Carolina.
- Share your purchases with others. It’s a great way to experience a variety of the fair’s offerings without taking on all of the health risk.
- Bring in healthy snacks (like carrots, celery, and apples) to munch on in between the pickle chips and the deep-fried onion.
- Don’t forget to bring water with you, as drinking water can help your body with digestion, flushing out toxins, and keeping you hydrated as you experience the fair. Plus, bringing it with you means you won’t have to buy it on site, which saves money!
What other ways can churches pursue a healthy and educational fair experience for their members? Feel free to comment with your suggestions.
— Leslie Forrest, NC State School of Social Work Intern