When Did Fairs Begin?

Last week it seemed all of Lawrence County came to a standstill to enjoy the Middle Tennessee District Fair. The Lawrenceburg church had a booth there, so Chelsea and I spent quite a bit of time organizing that and making sure it was covered for most evenings at least. There's just nothing quite like a good, old fashioned county fair. The deep fried foods, especially funnel cake and deep fried Oreos; the art and handcraft projects; the produce and livestock; and of course, the carnival rides; all these together make it a unique and unforgettable week each fall. For one week the entire community has one thing on their mind. It brings us together and wears us out. But no matter how exhausted we are by the end of it, we're already looking forward to next year.

This last week got me thinking. When did fairs start? What is their origin? The website for the International Association of Fairs and Expositions has a history of fairs and that's where I learned that fairs originated back in the time of the Bible. Nearly 600 years before Christ, Ezekiel records a lamentation about the destruction of the city of Tyre. Over and over he talks about the different countries that would come and sell at the fairs the city would hold. Finally he says, "Thy riches, and thy fairs, thy merchandise, thy mariners, and thy pilots, thy calkers, and the occupiers of thy merchandise, and all thy men of war, that are in thee, and in all thy company which is in the midst of thee, shall fall into the midst of the seas in the day of thy ruin" (Ezekiel 27:27). Fairs have long been a place where people gathered and sold their wares. Slowly the fair evolved in Europe from simply a marketplace to a venue for competition and entertainment as well. During the 19th century fairs became increasingly popular in the United States, something that lasts until today. No matter how fun these events are, however, we need to remember that one day, as it did in Tyre, all these things will be gone. The only thing that will be left is our relationship with God and those who we have invited to join us in heaven. Always remember that this world is not our home, we're just a passing through. We should enjoy our time here, but let's not get too attached. And let's use every opportunity possible to invite others home with us.