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Our Opinion: A county fair by any other name

Controversies over proper names can center on what is included or what is omitted.

In the case of this year’s upcoming Jefferson City Jaycees Fair, the omission of Cole County has rankled some Cole County residents, including the three members of the county’s governing body.

The Cole County Commission on Wednesday decide to send a letter to the sponsoring Jaycees organization that the county may withhold tax-supported resources next year if its name isn’t restored.

County fairs are traditions in many states, particularly in the Midwest, and traditionally are known — either formally or informally — by the name of the host county.

Cole County’s fair has been operated by the Jaycees for about six decades and previously had been the Jaycees Cole County Fair. This year’s event is billed by organizers as the Jefferson City Jaycees Fair.

County Presiding Commissioner Marc Ellinger said he has received a number of inquiries “about whether we are using county resources to benefit the Jaycees, particularly in light of the fact that they have made a very conscious effort to remove ‘Cole County’ from the name of the fair.”

The county traditionally has dedicated equipment and manpower to ready the track, livestock areas and other parts of the fairgrounds for the event.

Jaycees President Joe Heard said: “It is more to try and bring recognition to the Jaycees, since our organization is, actually, the one that funds this fair, puts the manpower in it and we run the fair.”

Was a snub intended? Was someone or some party offended by a perceived lack of recognition? Was the grievance justified?

We respond to those questions with another: What does it matter?

The Jaycees operate the fair, and the weeklong event requires much advance effort and planning on the part of the members.

The county has an appropriate public interest in helping to enhance access and safety for the many county residents who attend the event.

The partnership is mutually beneficial. And, in conversation, the fair traditionally includes a reference to Cole County.

We suggest a return to the moniker, Jaycees Cole County Fair, and an end to the dust-up.

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