To make a friend, you have to be one.
For 25 years, the Whiteside County Fair Board has engaged in a program where it acknowledges people who have been its friends.
What does it take to be a Friend of the Fair?
On its website, the fair board defines its "friends" as "those who have made an extra effort to support and make the annual fair as much fun as possible for all those who participate and attend the many shows and events."
This year, the fair board named two of its own – Paul Vock and Dan Heusinkveld – as 2014 Friends of the Fair.
Humble and hard working, Vock and Heusinkveld, both of Morrison, probably would have preferred that someone else receive the honor. They were chosen "basically, against our wishes," Vock said, laughing.
But we agree with the fair board that both veteran volunteers, who have been involved for more than 35 years each, certainly merit recognition.
Vock, 79, was heavy horse superintendent for 20 years and has been on the board since 1979.
Heusinkveld, 77, who also joined the board in 1979, has supervised harness racing for more than 30 years.
It should be noted that operating a county fair is not an easy endeavor.
The ordinary challenges of putting on an event that is so dependent on the weather for optimum attendance have been made more difficult by the state's dire financial condition.
Economic and societal changes have also impacted county fairs.
The 144th Whiteside County Fair, which opened in Morrison Tuesday and runs through Saturday, still has a strong lineup of entertainment, not to mention interesting exhibits and a wide variety of judging events.
Oh, and did we mention fair food?
We congratulate the fair on its 144th year, and we encourage strong attendance.
With friends like Vock and Heusinkveld, the Whiteside County Fair is bound to be around for many more years to come.