Stand along Route 40 in Ellicott City or on Little Patuxent Parkway in Columbia and you'd never believe that Howard County was once primarily a farming county.
Back before Howard was known as one of the richest counties in the U.S. with a top-flight education system, a growing housing market and just about every other accolade a county can earn, it was built on agriculture. While the remaining farms are found primarily in the western part of Howard, those of us with longer memories will recall that much of what is now Columbia was farm land.
But progress being what it is, economic pressure to turn farms into housing and retail projects has slowly eroded the agricultural way of life. Many farmers are still successfully keeping what is a family tradition going. And though their numbers are much smaller than before, farming remains an important economic and cultural part of Howard.
Starting this Saturday, Howard's farm life will be celebrated for eight days at the Howard County Fair in West Friendship. Visitors to the fair can tour barns full of cows, pigs and horses; see a slew of homemade arts and crafts; and visit displays of farm-grown crops. And, of course, there are carnival rides and live music.
For those who have never been, the fair is a real treat and one worth attending. Not only for the fun, but also for a glimpse at an important part of Howard County that not everyone gets a chance to experience.