Forget the high tech headquarters, the chi-chi boutiques and the posh restaurants, at its heart, the Treasure Valley is still very much a rural area. It’s time to not only embrace that small-town identity, but celebrate it, and what better way to do just that than with a corndog in your hand and a carnival ride ticket in your pocket? The Western Idaho Fair kicked off on Aug. 21 and will bring fairgoers 10 full days of rides, concerts, animals, arts and crafts and a whole bunch of food none of us should probably eat. State fairs remain one of those last bastions where simple, family friendly fun can link us back to our roots and our community (check out Garrison Keillor’s take on state fairs as published in the July edition of National Geographic). Spend some time wandering the animal barns, where 4-H and FFA members show the animals they’ve spent the last year or more raising (from one former 4-Her, it’s a lot of hard work). Watch the horsemanship trials, check out the massive draft horses or just walk the exhibition hall, where the finest in produce, hand-made clothing and baked goods sit alongside paintings and photography, all vying for the coveted first-place ribbon.And who needs American Idol when we’ve got the Colgate Country Showdown, with preliminaries on Saturday, Aug. 22 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Project Filter Stage. BW’s own Arts and Entertainment Editor Amy Atkins will be one of the judges the would-be singers will have to impress if they want to move on. But it’s not all about the homemade or home-raised. A series of free concerts (free with paid admission to the fair at least) will keep audiences rockin’ in the grandstands of Les Bois Park. First up is Foreigner on Tuesday, Aug. 25, followed by Rodney Atkins on Wednesday, Aug. 26. The Four Tops will take center stage on Thursday, Aug. 27, while Blake Shelton will finish out the series on Friday, Aug. 28. All concerts start at 7:30 p.m. and are general admission seating. Along with the parade of ventriloquists, magicians, beauty queens, educational displays and assorted collections to keep everyone occupied, most of us (at least secretly) head to the fair to stuff ourselves until we’re sick, and then tempt fate by jumping on an assortment of spinning, twirling carnival rides. Just how many rides you go on depends on how much you’re willing to spend. Single tickets cost $1 each, but if you’re willing to buy 80, you can get a book for $70. The best deal seems to be the carnival wristband, which gives an individual access to all the rides for the entire day for $30. General admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors age 62 and older, $4 for children age 6 to 11 or free for children age 5 and younger. For a full calendar of events, all the details are available online.