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Opinion: Fall approaches and brings holiday and Madera Fair

Based on the calendar the fall equinox comes to the Northern Hemisphere Sept. 23. But for many the unofficial end of summer takes place following this first Monday of the month. In the United States, regardless of the sweltering temperatures, the Labor Day holiday signals that another Summer has passed. This three-day weekend is a celebration of the working men and women who keep the country running and productive. It always seems oxymoronic that the toils of the American workforce are lauded by much of the country shutting down and staying home instead of punching the time clock at work.

Enjoy the holiday weekend responsibly and remember buzzed driving is drunk driving. The life you save may be your own.

An indication greater than the calendar date of an impending autumn is the harvest. The culmination of the growers’ year of toil ends as these stewards of the land gather the food needed to feed the planet.

In my youth, the beginning of the school year came after the Labor Day weekend. How many remember when the first day of school took a back seat to the new school year because entire families worked in the fields bringing in the crops.

In the vineyards, grapes were laid out on trays that turned into raisins drying in the sun. Grape pickers were paid a small fee per tray of fruit picked.

In recent times, it has become more profitable for the grape crop to be picked by machine and put in vats used to supply the California wine industry.

The Madera glass plant and Georgia Pacific brought factories to Madera County in the 1960s and 70s to provide bottles for wine and cardboard crates to pack bottles of wine in.

The local boutique wineries, many family owned, have built an industry among the fruits used to create award-winning wines.

Fine wines and spirits are created in the midst of the vines and trees, greatly reducing shipping and labor costs. Direct to consumer purchases are on hand at the various wineries and their tasting rooms.

Even in Madera in the mid-century past, the beginning of the school year was often delayed to allow entire families to take to the fields to bring in the crops. This practice received support as business people in ag-based communities all know that when the growers have a good year it generates prosperity for area retail and service industries.

Many Baby Boomers who were reared in the San Joaquin Valley speak fondly of buying clothes for the new school year with money earned after picking grapes, cotton and tree fruit. The migrant workforce comprised of people of all colors moved from place to place picking whatever crops were ripe.

Harvest times are carefully calculated by agronomists to insure gradual maturation crops. Agronomists are scientists who look for ways to increase soil productivity, to raise more food on the same amount of soil. They also work to improve the quality of seed and the nutritional value of crops, according to Google.

“My Job Depends on Ag” is much more than a buzz-phrase or an advertising campaign created to support farming. The whole country literally depends on agriculture and its ability to provide subsistence to an ever growing population.

Examples of agriculture and its contribution to the lives of all Madera counties will be on display at the Madera District Fair next weekend. Gates open at 5 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Gates close each evening at 11 p.m.

Come and see your neighbors’ efforts in the areas of art, cooking, canning, floriculture and many others. Prize-winning entries are displayed at various locations throughout the fairgrounds.

Each evening, big-name performers will appear as part of the Table Mountain and Tecate Light concert series. Free shows with paid admission to the Fair bring Trace Atkins, Loverboy, The Commodores Sounds of Motown, Voz de Mondo and El Lumou to the hometown stage.

Remember, Thursday is Community Night with seniors 62 and older and kids getting free admission.

Discount carnival bracelets, food coupons and discount advance admission tickets are available through Wednesday at the Madera Fair Office, 1850 W. Cleveland Avenue or visit

Long days and pleasant nights, and have a great weekend.

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Readers may contact Tami Jo Nix by emailing or following @TamiJoNix on Twitter.

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