Does anyone still go to the Fair? Apparently they do, as they continue to be held each year.
I saw a billboard along the highway last week announcing the upcoming yearly event. I wonder what it’s like going to the Fair now. I haven’t been in years.
It once was the highlight of early Fall, kids saving up their money and going to the Fair. It was such a big event that one afternoon was designated “School Day” and the fairgrounds were closed to all except for the schoolchildren who were bused there from all over the county. That was great fun, going to the fair with your friends.
But the best time to go was at night, when the lights were bright and the place seemed magical. And our family always attended one night during the week. It was something daddy always dreaded but mother enjoyed it as much as her two daughters.
Here’s a side note you may not be able to imagine: Saturday night was designated “Colored” Night at the Fair, meaning that was the only time African-Americans were allowed to attend. Of course, this was the result of Jim Crow laws in place in the Southern United States up until 1965.
The crowds were huge at the Fair, as I remember, and in the eyes of a child, there was so many things to do there!
The Midway was where all the activity was going on.
The rides: Merry-Go-Round, Bumper Cars, Tilt-a-Whirl, Roller Coaster and of course, the Farris Wheel. I’m sure there were other rides whose names I cannot even recall.
The Music: It seems it was always organ music playing as you wandered over the Fairgrounds. Sawdust covered the ground to keep down the dust from so many feet stomping through.
The Games: Toss a coin and try to make it land on a glass plate and you could take it home with you. Toss balls to hit an object and take home a teddy bear. Pick up a rubber duckie floating past in a trench and claim some little insignificant prize.
The Sideshows: For an admission behind a curtain you could see a goat with a woman’s head, a child with two heads and all sorts of tricks devised to take money from gullible people. Fortune Tellers. Hoochie-coochie shows (we were instructed to turn our heads as we passed by those!)
The Food: Candy Apples, Cotton Candy, Pronto Pups (also now known as Corn Dogs), greasy hamburgers and hotdogs, popcorn, peanuts. And I wanted to sample all of it! I don’t recall ever getting sick, but the odds were I should have!
The Exhibits: An entire hall was given over to displays that reflected the skills of area homemakers: homemade jam, jelly, pies; sewing; handwork. These were judged and ribbons given to winners.
Livestock: A barn with all manner of cows, horses, pigs, chickens and I don’t even remember what else. Prizes were given for the best specimen raised.
And finally there was the Grandstand Act, for a separate admission. Seated in the bleachers, you saw flying trapeze acts, clowns, tigers jumping through flaming hoops, girls performing tricks on horseback.
Many things have changed. Going to the Fair is no longer the highlight of a rural child’s Fall life. The lights and delights of the Fair are overshadowed by many other exciting activities. But I’m glad I got to experience County Fairs back then.
What is your experience, past or present, with Town, Village, County or State Fairs?