Originally published via email on August 3, 2019
It’s August in Minnesota.
Yellow tassels of corn are glistening back at the sunrise. White and blue and grey tents form a poky patchwork over the vegetable stands at urban farmers’ markets. Something just shifted in the air and the angle of the sun to signal that it is time to start collecting school supplies.
All of this also means that in a few short weeks it will be State Fair time.
Historically, the state fair concept is rooted in agriculture. Agriculture is “the science and art of cultivating plants and livestock.” With the purpose of inspiring its people to work the land and create a flourishing self-sufficient society, agricultural fairs were the ideal platform for strengthening a community’s economic potential.
In its earliest practices around the world, these agricultural fairs (Latin Agricola means “farmer” and feria means “free day” or “holy day”) had a religious component to them, more so than the fairs we recognize today in America.
Through our songs this month we sampled each of the four elements of the “agricultural fair.” Each of the four songs will represent one of the following: Education, Competition, Entertainment, and – to honor the historical roots – Religion.
To kick off the series, the first featured song is representing COMPETITION. Who gets the blue ribbon? Who gets honorable mention? Who wins the contest? Who can chop a log the fastest? Whose cow is the prettiest? Whose pumpkin is the biggest? How’s your marksmanship? Can you shoot the target? Can you knit a sweater? Can you bake a pie? Can you name this tune?
“Anything You Can Do (I Can Do Better)” from Annie Get Your Gun, the 1946 musical by Irving Berlin, has become a favorite of the American musical theater repertoire. The comical banter between Frank Butler and Annie Oakley stems from their competitive natures that mask their budding romance.
Christy Jones accepted Nathan’s invitation to duet with him, and they had a blast! Here are some clips from recording day…
And to prove this…
“Any selfie you can take, I can take better!”
In all honesty though, it was great fun to do music with Christy again.
Whether you attneded the MN State Fair or some other regional agricultural event, we hope you were able to take some time away on that day to acquire some new knowledge about your area or craft, smile at a funny entertainer, worship in the beauty of creation, and – inspired by all the hard work of those who entered competitions – try to have some fun improving anything you can do better.
This writing was an excerpt (plus some videographic elaborations) from the first issue of our August collection of SongNotes from the Birds.