Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Changing Fall Fair

Carolyn R. Wilker--A Changing Fall Fair

This past weekend, I attended our hometown fair—an event our family never missed when I was growing up and one that continued as a tradition when my husband and I had our own family.

We arrived in time to see the parade on the Saturday; and a couple of times our children participated in the parade, one of them doing cartwheels during the route, thus I walked the route too.

Our children, like us, enjoyed the midway with its rides and games, watched the jumper horses and riders as well as the carriage horses pulling their decorated or plain buggies. There were small animals to see, and pigs and chickens in pens for judging. We always took time to go into the arena and look at the exhibits and see who won the prizes—most often it was me who needed to see those entries, for some years, I entered sewing and other items for judging.

We went to the church booth for a sit-down meal in the late afternoon, then made one last round of the midway before putting on warmer clothes, finding a seat on the bleachers, and watching the air band contest in the evening.

The fair has changed; there’s still a parade, exhibits in the arena and a midway with rides and games. There are still jumper horses and carriage horses, judging of cattle and sheep, grains and 4-H displays and exhibits and commercial displays in the arena.

Ball games once played under the lights on Saturday evening gave way to an air band. The air-band competition continues—this year was the 26th— drawing young and old in its audience, entertained with music and dance acts that have us reminiscing or moving to the music. One year, a group of young people from our family, along with a school friend, performed the YMCA song, as recorded by The Village People, complete with uniforms and hats. They had the crowd singing with them.

Instead of a Fair Queen competition, we have a Fair Ambassador contest, in which two nieces have previously competed. The church booth, too, has changed. No longer do the ladies serve a hot full course meal; now they serve hamburgers, hot dogs, pop, and home-made pie, and there’s still a place to sit and eat behind their booth.

This year was different for me. Having judged poetry in children and adult categories in previous years, and exhibiting sewing or photography or pickled beets, which I didn’t enter this year, I was part of the concessions, representing my book, Once Upon a Sandbox, that was published this spring, and my editing business.

The only event I could not miss was the Fair Ambassador contest Friday evening and my niece’s speech. My husband graciously stayed near my table during that program, while I went off, camera in hand, to be in the audience that a good part of the community also attended. This year, my niece Alex came in as runner up. We are so proud of her as we’ve been of the other girls entering in past years.

I had a different perspective this year, one in which I was the salesperson, persuader, instead of the one being persuaded. I did a good deal of people watching too, and observing change.

Like the Fall Fair and the Agricultural Society that runs it, things change, whether it’s for improvement, efficiency, or even convenience. It can mean trying something new, like the air band that’s been so popular, or the newer additions of baby show or the lawn tractor race. Even the theme this year, Go Green, is about change and how we can work with it and try to improve our world.


Peter Black said...

Hmm, Carolyn, you stirred slumbering chords with me in this interesting and evocative resume and reflection. It has to be close to 20 years since I attended a fall fair. Perhaps I've missed more than I realize.
Thank you for reigniting warm memories.

Diana Dart said...

Thanks for the warm and cozy memories. Our Fall Fair is this weekend, complete with horse pulls, a baby contest and livestock galore. So glad you enjoyed your local event :)

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thank you, Peter and Diana. It's always a time for memories and meeting people we haven't seen in awhile.

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