The Nodaway County Fair will be here before you know it, and according to organizers this year’s celebration promises to overflow with the kind of family fun and entertainment that over the years has made the fair a must-go summertime tradition for thousands of people across the region.

One of the few no-admission-charge summer festivals left in this part of the country, the fair brings manifold benefits to Maryville and the surrounding area. 

First and foremost, it’s a true showcase for city and county businesses and institutions that provides an invaluable opportunity to display our community’s pride and passion for progress.

The fair also shines an important spotlight on agriculture, and especially on the young farmers and livestock producers — many of them still in grade school — who represent the future of northwest Missouri’s most important industry.

But while this year’s fair is primed for yet another successful year, there are troubling clouds on the horizon. 

For many years — and in some cases decades — the fair has thrived thanks to the efforts of Fair Board members and other core volunteers who donate hundreds of volunteer hours each year so that the rest of us can have a good time during the third week of July.

The problem is that the list of those volunteers has remained largely unchanged for a long time, and that time, as it will, is taking an inevitable toll.

In short, the generation of Fair Board members and volunteers who have made the fair happen for the last couple of decades is growing older. Several have backed away from the fair, left altogether or retired and moved out of the area.

And for many of those who remain, age is becoming a factor. One Fair Board member recently told us that the mere physical burden of hanging signs and performing other set-up chores is becoming difficult for some of the fair’s most dedicated volunteers.

The message here is that it’s time for a new generation of Nodaway Countians who love the fair, and who recognize its importance, to step up and begin the work of not only saving the fair but making it bigger and better for many summers to come.

We’ll add that the local volunteer crunch extends to other important efforts as well. In Maryville and its surrounding communities too many service organizations, veterans groups, civic committees and town boards are run by dedicated — but graying — volunteers ready, and in many cases eager, to pass the torch of community service on to those who would keep it burning brightly.

Are you a member of the generation that will take the fair — and Nodaway County — to the next level? All it takes is a phone call to a Fair Board member, your town clerk, a city councilman or alderman, your minister or a neighbor who belongs to a local service club.

People often talk about wanting to “give back.” If you’re one of those people, now is the time.