Friday, August 2, 2013

Fairly Exciting

Excitement that would make a dog's tail wag. The kind of excitement that causes children to be hyper, er, more hyper.  People packing bags and RV's ready for that annual trip to Greenville. What causes such excitement and anticipation? Easy. The Great Darke County Fair.

Although I haven't been back for the fair in at almost thirty years, I still have that yearly anticipation. And why not? I walked that fair from the time I was a little girl holding my parents' hands to the time when I was a mother with teenage children visiting the farm for the month of August. I held quite a few hands at the fairgrounds. Some of them were pretty special. I visited the fair as a child full of awe and wonder. As a teenager full of love and romance. Finally as an adult looking for familiar faces.

We didn't raise animals to show at the fair. But the animal barns were always a first stop. We visited the Elikers and their horses. Then we trotted off to the cow barns and then the pigs. Dad always looked over the sheep probably comparing them to his own. Bunnies, chickens, goats, we loved them all. We were farmers, and this was our fair. It seems that no matter the age I happened to be, I always visited the barns where homemaker's showed the work of their hands. I looked for names I recognized. Those of our neighbors and friends. I wandered through the 4-H barn looking at the amazing things made by my friends and later by their children. I wandered to the Art Barn looking for a painting by my cousin Alma Lea. This was the fair belonging to all who lived in Darke County.

For a girl who has always had a good case of motion sickness, the midway rides were more a threat than a thrill. The ponies were about the right speed for me. Those horses that went around and around and up and down on the merry-go-round were a double threat. I was meant to be a bystander. When I was little, I remember visiting the arcade. I put a coin into a machine and a post card featuring a star came out. Lone Ranger, Danny Kaye, Bogart, Gene Autry, David Niven, June Allison, Ginger Rogers. So many stars....so few coins. I always hoped to get Roy Rogers or Dale Evans. Better yet, one of both Roy and Dale. Today those cards fetch anywhere from $3-10, depending on just how long ago that card popped out of that little machine. Every year kids came home with a trove of treasures: a Cupie doll on a stick (ouch), a brightly colored cane, a rosette fan that when unfolded presented a rainbow of colors, a whip which could serve no other purpose than to inflict pain on a younger sibling, a sparkly topped baton of red, white and blue. So many things to attract a small child. An occasional fair toy was indeed a treat. We were farmers. There wasn't always money to spend on rides and trinkets.

I wish class reunions would happen during Fair Week rather than in the spring. We could all gather in a place that drew us as children. Our vacation time could be spent visiting our roots and this once a year place of memory. I won't make it to the fair this year, but I will dream of cotton candy and candy apples. I will remember the faces of those I passed on the midway and those who were a part of those days long ago.

I miss you, Darke County Fair. Maybe next year.

1 comment:

Granny-Guru said...

Great idea! I still remember the Texas State Fair. I thought it was fabulous that the schools closed so we could all go!