Biennial State Fair at Walden
March 2, 2012
“Despite the fact that agriculture is a huge engine in California’s current state economy, it is not enshrined as it is at contemporary midwestern fairs,” says Jim Kopel. Former teacher and State Fair connoisseur Kopel has attended State Fairs in all 50 states, but he missed Walden School’s Biennial State Fair this year. Fourth and fifth grade students have been researching the landforms, products grown and manufactured, famous people, history, and trivia particular to their assigned state. After many weeks of work in the 4th/5th Grade classrooms, students converted the Toby Hayward Community Room into an exhibit hall to better showcase and explain what they had learned to Fair visitors.
After a rousing opening shout from 4th/5th Grade Lead Teacher Terra Toscano to begin the evening, all were escorted outside to the North Yard for a real-life cowboy demonstration of roping and lassoing with expert Dan Campbell. Campbell shared some of the different types of roping that cowboys and ranchers use, and then proceeded to show how to lasso. After his explanation, Campbell proceeded to “capture” a few students, which was a fun way to connect Walden School’s State Fair to its agricultural roots.
Back inside, books, essays, and posters dazzled friends and guests. As one parent mentioned, “It is such a great way for the children to see each other’s hard work and share it with all the families.” Another parent was excited to see how many different types of birds adorned the three-sided display boards. The proud faces of the 4th and 5th Graders shone, and they confidently shared with many people all of the information they had learned. Many of the students also handed out samples of a cooked dish of favorite food from their assigned state. Towards the end of the evening, a cake displaying all of the states was cut, and each person was served a piece of the USA.
In 1853, the nation’s first State Fair was held in North Carolina, where $524 in prizes was awarded to the state’s best farmers for the finest exhibits of crops, livestock, agricultural machinery, and homemade household goods. 159 years later, Walden School’s Biennial State Fair has evolved from its rural roots, but the core values of sharing the best work and learning with one’s neighbors are still strong.