The Jay County Fair begins today.

There are baby contests in the Farmer’s Building this morning. Jay County 4-H opening ceremonies start at 11:45 a.m. Rides open at 1 p.m. and there’s a monster truck show at 7 p.m.

Though there was a fair last year, it didn’t have the same energy it usually does. With coronavirus restrictions in place, no animals were kept at the fairgrounds. That meant there was no need for families to camp there to take care of animals. And that meant there wasn’t the constant parade of 4-H members bustling around. Grandstand entertainment was limited to a single demolition derby. And some of the local service groups chose not to participate.

But this year, the fair is back to its traditional format. Animals will be on site. There will be plenty of folks camping. There’s a full slate of grandstand entertainment, highlighted by Friday’s concert with Sammy Kershaw and Tracy Lawrence.

Everything is back. That’s especially exciting after a 2020 that was marred by the pandemic.

Here are some tips for doing so:

•Explore. There’s a lot to do out at the fair, and things can sometimes get lost in the shuffle. If you haven’t checked them out in a while, take a look at the projects in the Bob Schmidt Memorial Exhibit Hall, stroll through the Bubp Building, see what’s going on in the Women’s Building.

•Attend a livestock show. You may not know anything about cows or sheep or swine. That’s fine. Just go. If you’re confused about what’s happening, ask someone. Most are more than happy to share their knowledge.

•Take your time. One of the best things about the fair is that you get to visit with a lot of friends, maybe some who you don’t see often or even only see at the fair. When it’s time to go home, budget about a half hour to get back to your car. Chances are, you’ll spend that much time stopping and chatting with those you run into along the way.

•Eat. This is either the most important or just our favorite. Maybe both. There is no shortage of food at the fair. Enjoy it all. And make sure, especially, to patronize the local stands and booths. Our service groups depend on the money they make at the fair to support the various local causes they give to throughout the year.

In short, take it all in.

Take advantage of the opportunity to learn, laugh, eat and spend time with friends.

We hope to see you at the fair. — R.C.