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Imagine the hours

Aug 4, 2017 By Steven R. Peck, Publisher

The exhibits at the county fair are showcases of human effort

If you're looking for a mathematical brain teaser (and who isn't?), this might suffice: Visit the Fremont County Fair, walk through the big exhibit hall at the Fremont Center, then try to calculate how many hours of human activity are represented in the displayed items.

We are not a large community. Ours is not a giant county fair. The Fremont Center is not all that big, either. So the math task ought to be easy.

But it isn't. It is mind-boggling.

Here are the flowers, potted just so, cut and arranged for exhibit, mixed, matched, fertilized and thinned. They started from seed.

Here are the culinary entries, each formulated, tested, refined and retested, the cookies next to the cupcakes, the pickles next to the jarred pears, each the pride of a household that eats well.

Here are the fabric entries, each knitted, crocheted, sewn and stitched, a wool vest next to an apron next to a thick pair of mittens. Think of the hands, the needles, the patterns, the reading glasses, the days, the weeks and the months.

Here are wooden bowls, made piece by piece, fitted and polished to perfection. Here is the burnished metal formed into tiny trucks with an oil rig of the same scale. Toys? Not exactly. Fine art? Not really. Remarkable? Absolutely.

Here are the paintings in oils, acrylics, watercolor. Each was created a brush stroke at a time, guided not by blueprints on an instruction manual, but by an individual human imagination. Some artists are not yet 10 years old. At least one is 95.

Here are the vegetables - the carrots and beets, the broccoli and peppers, the peas and the broccoli. Here are the makings of meals for a year, a utilitarian enterprise if there ever was one, yet each a proud outcome of a caring gardener with a hoe and a hose, displayed on plain white plates, providing a wealth of color on their own.

Here are the quilts, each a magnificent entity on its own, hanging from the ceiling in a way that transforms the old armory building from an empty brick shell to a gallery of art, of craft, of skill, of experience, tradition, imagination and creativity.

How many hours? How much time spent thinking, considering and reconsidering, applying knowledge and talent, transforming a thought to a creation?

Each of us has something we and we alone can do. Others can achieve a similar result, but no two brownies are the same, no two afghans, no two ceramic jars, no two beaded belts, no two hatbands, sunflowers, scrapbooks or handbaskets - not in this place, where everything is an original.

No, we are not a crowded city. The audience for these goods is small. But the individual relationship between creator and creation, between exhibitor and spectator is the same, whether it's at the Metropolitan Museums of Art or the Fremont Center. It's an astonishing display, even here.

Take it in over the next day or two. And try to do the math.

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2017-09-22