By Andrew Devine, Contributing Writer
This year the Franklin County Agricultural Society celebrates nearly 176 consecutive years of the Farmington Fair, taking into account the year of 1940 when the Fair was canceled due to World War II. With agricultural education and competition, to carnival rides and food; this year, like every year according to Secretary of the Fair Neal Yeaton, the Fair drew a large crowd.
While it’s obvious that here at UMF we strive for community outreach by opening our doors to the Farmington community and sharing UMF buildings like the Fitness and Recreation Center, Mantor Library, Computer Center and the dining hall to the local people in the community, some people question whether or not the Farmington community is equally as welcoming to UMF students when it comes to events that combine communities, like the Fair. The answer to this question depends on who you ask.
Yeaton says that he see’s no differentiation between Farmington locals and UMF students.
Tim Burnell, custodian in Purington Hall, and long time resident of the Farmington area working in and out of the realm of the university noted that without UMF, Farmington would have no reason to be on the map. Burnell said that when he worked at the paper mill in Jay, he found that the college students were a, “pain in the ass,” but since working at the university for some years he has found that students help keep Farmington alive, and most members of the community welcome them. Other members of the Farmington community found in downtown businesses spoke on the long lasting strength of the university.
Contrary to the perspective that the university contributes a great deal to the community, one store owner downtown found that the university had in the past made a noteworthy effort to include the Farmington community in the ongoings of the university, but had seen a decline in these efforts in recent years.
Luke Small, having gone to the Fair most years he has attended UMF and finding himself back at the Fair this year, commented on the stance of the two communities together. Small indicated that the Fair was about the same this year as in past years and suggested this may be what continues to draw more local people to the Fair. Small recognized the draws to most Fair’s include the atmosphere and the traditions of “greasy and delicious food, cheap amusements and farm animals.” The Farmington Fair typically draws rural, usually hyper-conservative populations which easily conflicts with the majority of personality types at UMF and other colleges alike.
Small describes a particular moment that stuck with him saying, “While I was at the demo derby this year I was struck with a little irony in that, when the national anthem was playing I couldn’t find an American flag to look at, not to say there wasn’t one there, I just couldn’t see it from where I was standing. However, I could see a confederate flag on one of the cars that was participating.”
Overall, the intermingled communities seem to have a very complex relationship. Whether or not one group is more accepting of the other, or the two coexist, is hard to fully understand.
Based on these opinions it seems as though the UMF students and the Farmington community members each have their own perspective. Whether it be ideological differences like Small brought up, or it be based on the, “us versus them” perspective of students, it seems like the line of separation is definitely there.