Even amid the competition, events stand test of time.

As has happened for generations, southwest Kansans are heading to county fairs.

The annual events have changed over the years, yet continue to attract people of all ages and interests.

It's always encouraging to see crowds at the fair, even as so many other activities compete for people's time.

In Finney County and elsewhere, fair organizers do their best to incorporate new and interesting activities as a way to help the events evolve and stay relevant. Who during the first county fairs more than a century ago could have imagined monster truck exhibitions at the gatherings?

At the same time, it wouldn't be the fair without the usual staples in livestock shows and 4-H competitions, the kind of traditional offerings that help youngsters better understand the heritage of their community and state.

Indeed, a focus on all that's good about rural life has remained the highlight of the county fair.

Consider competitions over the best livestock, baked goods, crafts and other endeavors. The good work displayed by 4-H members and other fair participants who may or may not have farm ties always warrants recognition, especially in a part of the country powered by agriculture.

Another feature of each county fair that won't go out of style would be affordability. Many activities are free, making the fair one of the best entertainment bargains around.

Fair-goers will have access to as much at the 121st Finney County Fair, set for July 23 to 27 at the fairgrounds.

Here and beyond, the county fair tradition has been a source of community pride for generations. Early county fairs in the 1800s in Kansas were considered by many to be the social event of the year.

Perhaps county fairs have been such a given over time, that they're often taken for granted.

Many other entertainment options have come and gone. Anyone who has passed on a recent visit to the fair should plan a stroll across the fairgrounds to check out what they've missed and see for themselves why the annual events have had such long, enjoyable runs.