Thursday, August 28, 2014

Going to the Fair

Does anyone still go to the Fair? Apparently they do, as they continue to be held each year.
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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?

8 comments:

  1. My favorite fair memory was all the displays of local crops done like fancy mosaics. And the sewing. And the Salt and Pepper collections. We never ate or went on rides, but enjoyed the sounds and smells.

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  2. Hello Sanda,

    Fairs still are quite common in England, especially around holiday times. In particular, they are annual events in rural areas bringing a sense of community spirit which is always a joy.

    We well remember winning goldfish, brought home in plastic bagels. Quite how we won them, who knows but one rarely sees this these days!

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  3. Just as you said, for me the fair in Oklahoma was a kid thing, about the midway where we spent all our money on rides and junk food. I don't think I've been to a fair as an adult. I've just looked it up and we may get to go to the Fair on our next trip 'home'! Thanks for the idea!

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  4. We used to go to the Mid-South Fair every year, but it moved from Memphis down into Mississippi several years ago and I haven't been since. There's another fair here now called the Delta Fair. I've never been, but this year I plan to see what it's like. I wonder if there'll be livestock. That's one of my favorite parts of the fair.

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  5. Haven't been to a fair in ages. We routinely drove to Sacramento to the State Fair when the girls were growing up. County Fairs are still happening here. Lake County (where our mt. house is) is having a fair this weekend and I expect it is on the smaller side since that county isn't heavily populated. A friend who lives in that area has an 18 year old son who for the first time has entered some of his art in the fair. She said she didn't expect him to win but he was thrilled just to know his work was being exhibited.

    Darla

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  6. I can hear the music playing at the fair now Sanda.
    What a great post.
    The fair you describe, without the animals took me back to my childhood. I remember trying to get my teeth around a big fat sticky toffee apple.. and my mother telling me I could have no more Candy floss. They were golden days.
    Here in Portugal we have annual fairs. They are super fairs and we have a great time.. we do have candy floss - no toffee apples.
    lots of homemade products.
    I am glad that they still have fairs. It brings the community together ..and its a happy day out for all.
    kind regards.
    happy weekend
    val xxxx

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  7. It was a pleasure to read your post, as I have never been to fair. + the fairs over here have never had " everything " at one time to present.
    The only ones I´ve ever been to are a flea market sales. where I have been the seller, not the customer.

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