Looking back, the giant water fights at the water trough were just as important as the ribbons and trophies at the county fair.
Fair time is rapidly approaching. I don’t think people outside of rural America understand just how important of a role that the fair plays in our communities. As a child, it was the highlight of the summer – a showcase for a year’s worth of work. It was a week of vacation that rivaled any trip to Disney World, just far less expensive.
Of course, there were the ribbons and trophies, but looking back, the giant water fights at the water trough were just as important. The time when mom and dad said we were old enough to sleep in the trailer by ourselves was a highlight.
Then there are the glorious stories that we all still talk about:
- The steer that took off across the fairgrounds dragging me behind it, as it headed for the vendor selling blown glass.
- Memories of that night after the rodeo when that pretty girl danced close to me and gave me a kiss just before her mom arrived to take her home.
- The first time I rode on Stockman’s night and earned the respect of the horsemen I respected.
- Winning that champion steer banner that, even though it’s now faded and frayed, brings back a sense of pride that you don’t get looking back at many awards or accomplishments.
- The sweet taste of tea and homemade pie from the church booth.
- My great grandma’s champion homemade donuts at our fair for over 40 years; she always entered roses, too.
I didn’t realize in those days how my mom only operated on about four hours of sleep during fair week, until I watched my wife do the same. I guess I thought all those show clothes and meals just happened. We never thought about how mom put us in bed at 11 p.m., but still had to go about doing the chores we had neglected in our euphoria.
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I can still recall every heifer, every steer and every horse’s name, and I can tell you pretty accurately how we placed and even how we should have placed. Then we went away to college and we still gathered at state fair, came back as royalty to our local fair, and helped the “youngsters” get ready.
Somewhere in between I got married and started my own family, and there was that decade where we attended but weren’t really connected to the fair. But about three years before our oldest was old enough to join 4-H, we began to lay plans to ensure our kids achieved fair glory early and often.
Now the big shows are circled almost a year in advance and the whole family looks forward to them, I wonder if I’ll miss them when the kids finish up. Perhaps we will need the reprieve to get geared up for when the grandkids begin heading to the fairs and big shows.
What are your favorite fair memories? Share them below.
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