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Good ole country fun

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I am from Kansas, originally, and it shows every once and awhile. For instance, I think that a country fair is the ideal way to spend a summer day, especially if there are lots of animals and demonstrations. I haven’t been to a fair in ages, mostly because I haven’t lived anywhere that holds one, so imagine my surprise when I saw the Lambeth Country Show advertised a few weeks ago. I would have never thought it possible to find a country fair in London, but what do I know? We are all dead excited, because there will be things like sheep dog demonstrations, animals, and loads of traditional crafts. Just to show that this isn’t a Kansas thing though, most of the parents at my daughter’s school are going as well, and none of them are from Kansas…

Of course, fairs in general are fun, but they also play an important role nowadays. One of the reasons that I am so excited to go is because the Lambeth Country Show is quite well known for showcasing traditional English (British even, perhaps?) farming and household skills. Though I would love to keep hens and bees, I am more interested in the traditional household crafts. If I haven’t mentioned it before, I will say it loudly now. It is a disaster that things like soap-making and knitting are disappearing as common household skills. These things are now classified as “crafts”, which are subject to someone else’s idea of what constitutes a craft. It is rare that we don’t follow patterns or specific recipes that we have to get out of books or buy as part of a craft kit. This means that someone has packaged and sold to us what used to be a passed down through family. While it may be fun, for instance, to stitch a cat menagerie for a wall hanging, it bares little resemblance to the traditional ways that things like cross-stitch/embroidery and smocking have been used. Now that most of our needs are met by mass-production, these skills that used to fundamentally contribute to running a household are relegated to crafts, which is a shame.

This is one of the reasons that country fairs are important. They preserve these disappearing skills and showcase the processes and products that have virtually disappeared from daily life. So, as much as I enjoy country fairs, it is always tinged with a bit of melancholy. It goes back to a thought that always runs through my head when someone comments on my knitting or stitching with “oh, my grandmother used to do that”. I always think sadly, “yes, but you don’t.”

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About Kara

I am what happens when you combine a WWII enthusiast, an environmentalist and a frugal celiac/coeliac.

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