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Letter: Cow in labor exhibit is the fair at its very best

Cow in labor exhibit is the fair at its very best

I read the letter, “No need to showcase a mother cow in labor,” with strong disagreement. Visitors to the fair choose from a variety of experiences. There’s the thrill of the midway with its games of skill and chance, spinning carnival rides and treats your mother never approved of. There are chain saw sculptors, country music performances and a demolition derby. There are clowns, marching bands and companies selling home improvements. There’s something for everybody for sure. All of these are pleasant amusements, fun to experience, but they don’t give visitors much to take home other than a queasy stomach, sunburn or a headache.

There is another, quieter side of the fair that many visitors just seem to miss. I never see as much traffic there but it’s the part of the fair with the greatest educational value. The agricultural exhibits feature live animals including 4-H projects, which are often living animals a child has raised from birth, fed, cleaned up after and cared for with responsibility, dedication and enthusiasm. Wow. What a lesson! Many urban and suburban children probably don’t make much of a connection between living creatures raised on the farm and food they consume every day because all they’ve ever experienced is shrink-wrapped ground beef and cut up chicken at the grocery store, if that.

The cow in labor exhibit is the Erie County Fair at its very best and most educational. I’ve seen this exhibit more than once over the years and took my daughter to see it when she was in grade school. I’ve always walked away with the feeling I’ve witnessed something miraculous. It’s a lesson in biology and always provokes discussions between parents and children that families really should talk about.

The sincere letter writer discusses the intelligence and emotions of cows, but a cow can’t really tell us what’s going on in her mind. My wife, who’s experienced childbirth, tells me that once the urge to give birth is upon a mother-to-be it doesn’t much matter what’s going on around her. She is singularly focused on the task at hand and little else matters. I think the writer is projecting her own very human feelings onto the cow and would thereby remove the most valuable part of this annual event.

Bill McCall

Amherst

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