Sunday, September 11, 2016

Going Home to the Fair—Carolyn R. Wilker

On Saturday, the 10th of September, my husband and I followed a tradition, returning to our home community for the annual fall fair. It always runs the first weekend after Labour Day. A time of anticipation after children have gone back to school. Sometimes we wore wearing jeans and sweaters for cool weather and other times shorts and t-shirts as people wore this time, when it’s hot and humid. We prepared for rain outdoors, but the parade went on.

As a young school child, I remember walking in the parade with our teacher. Two students carried the school banner. Much later the parade changed from students walking in groups to costumed walkers and bikers and tractors.And the old firetruck tooting its horn.

I looked forward to the midway rides, especially the merry-go-round, and later more adventurous rides, but also the games where we’d try to win a prize. At the end of the afternoon Dad always bought one more bag of caramel corn for the ride home. We left early enough so that we could get the cows fed and milked and the eggs gathered at our farm. Those are early memories. Later I would learn how much work it takes to put on that event.

The Fair Ambassador several years ago cuddling my great niece

Dad and Mom were both members of the Tavistock Agricultural Society. It took many hours from many volunteers to get things ready. Dad left home on the Friday morning to go to the fairgrounds to set up bleachers and prepare the area for the horse competitions. Once we were all in school, Mom joined in with the preparations. She worked with other women to set up the exhibits in the arena and one year she was director of the Women’s Division. When she was leader of our 4-H club, we worked together to prepare our entries of sewn goods or crafts. I don’t remember much about putting in vegetables and fruit on display, but perhaps we did that too.

As an adult and mother, I, too, have served as a judge for parade entries and for exhibits in the arena, but I also entered sewing and canned goods in other categories. It was competitive but fun too, when I had the time to devote to it.

Our children entered into the parade, too, with high excitement—two dressed as clowns one year, walking the distance, and another year our youngest, an enthusiastic gymnast, cartwheeling through the route, with gloves on her hands to protect them from the rough asphalt. When the air band began, a group of young people from our family participated and won the prize for their category with the YMCA song. Now the fair has a talent show on the Saturday evening and that's been held indoors, either in the hall or the  nearby school gymnasium.

  a past year's pic of the silent auction table

This year, I helped my sister with the silent auction. She’s been organizing the event for a number of years now and always needs plenty of helpers to make it work. Social media has been part of the game plan, with posts to Facebook the last few years, showing what will be up for bids. Businesses and individuals have donated items that people bid on. The auction helps to attract people to the fair and keep the fair going.

In the auction this year is a memorial donation to my father—a tree, bird house and seed—to remember his love of nature and his many years of dedication to the agricultural society and the fair.

How does all this relate to our faith? Perhaps not a lot, except that some traditions are worth preserving, adding in new activities and alternate ways of accomplishing them. What I think it shows well is the willingness of a community to work together toward a common positive goal with gratitude for what we have.


Peter Black said...

Memories . . . You stirred some of mine, Carolyn. I confess though, that although my community has an annual fair, I haven't been to one for several years. Nowadays, merry-go-rounds and such rotational rides put my head and stomach at odds with each other. Still, I vicariously enjoyed your memories; thanks for sharing them. That was a lovely thing - providing silent auction goods in memory of your dad. ~~+~~

Carolyn Wilker said...

Thanks, Peter, for your delightful comment. I don't do the rides anymore either and the merry-go-rounds seem rare these days.

Diana Holvik said...

Hi Carolyn. I love your post. I have been to quite a number of agricultural fairs over the years and love them, mostly the Erin Fall Fair which is held every Thanksgiving weekend. I love the animals; cows, bulls, sheep, goats. My favourites are the horses, especially the heavy horses. Wow, those guys can pull, their muscles rippling beneath coats that gleam in the sunshine. I love to see how they put their hearts into it. They are a team together with their humans. And for me that's the faith link. Those horses just want to please their humans, and they'll put their last ounce of strength into doing just that. I want to be like those horses, loving my master with all my strength and heart and soul. Thanks for the fun and memory stirring post.

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