Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Many Conversations—Carolyn R. Wilker

a prize-winning exhibit

Women's Institute display

September 8th to10th was our hometown fall fair— the place we loved to go with our parents when we were children, the weekend after Labour Day and when we were back in school after the summer. We looked forward to the parade, rides in the midway, eating caramel corn, and seeing our school friends. Incidentally, it was also the place where my parents met when they were young adults, at the Friday night dance.

This year, as an author with a new book, Harry’s Trees, I’d signed up early and paid for a table where I could meet people of my hometown community. I had other books too, but my new picture book rose to the top in interest. Probably helped by articles in the Tavistock Gazette, the Ontario Farmer and Oxford Review and people who knew my Dad and his inspiration for this book.

My table, ready to sell
Ontario Farmer article about my Dad and my book

Preparing for the weekend, I remembered that we’d be standing on a cold arena floor, one with ice under it, for hockey had already begun. When my husband and I packed the car on Friday morning, we included a rubber mat, a set of coloured foam mats for standing on, my boxes of books, and something to sit on. Snacks too.

We’d set up the books on the table in the morning then went to visit my mother for awhile. The fair began at 5 p.m. on Friday when the arena opened for exhibits and the silent auction.

Parents and children streamed in, seniors ambled along, looking at displays and seeing who won the prizes in fruits, vegetables, handiwork and art. Many headed to the nearby church booth for a cup of coffee or tea and some pie and ice-cream. My husband and I ate our sandwiches and watched the action. Soon people began to stop and take notice of the books. I offered younger children a tree stamp on their hand.

An older man and woman soon stood before me. “We read the article in Ontario Farmer about your book,” the gentleman said. “We came to see you. Did you get my email?” he asked.

I asked for the surname. “No, I didn’t get it. You can get a book now that you’re here.”

“We’d like to buy two copies,” the man said.

They asked me to write in the names of their grandchildren. I printed in the names, they paid and were on their way.

 This sort of thing happened over and over during the weekend—people I didn’t know or ones I knew, seeking me out to buy the book for children, grandchildren, or themselves. They all had the same interest in trees that my dad had, that I had too. Many of them knew my Dad in some capacity.

Conversations included the artist’s style, how the book came into being or asking me how long I’d been writing. I often got a smile as they walked away with book in hand.

I had kindred spirits there, not just farmers who are custodians and stewards of the land, but also long-time friends, fellow high school classmates or siblings of my classmates. Conversations were longer when it wasn’t so busy, or much shorter while others waited. All were good.

When fair goers headed out to the tug of war or the ambassador contest or other activities, the arena would become much quieter for awhile. That’s when I checked my bids at the silent auction, looked at displays, or chatted with the young woman next to me who’d been doing face painting.

silent auction- during set up

Quiet moments at Hannah's table

Another Women's Institute display 

Sherrill and another woman at the Tavistock and District Historical Society booth

The late evening hours passed the slowest. We drove home late, only for me to sleep, eat and return the next morning. The weekend passed and the arena air was so cold, but we had no emergency, so we couldn’t complain. Except maybe shiver. Friends in Florida in hurricane weather certainly came up in conversations.
 Sunday mid-afternoon, I packed up my books. We gathered chairs, mats and other items, packed them in the car and headed for home. It had been a weekend of healthy returns, mostly sunshine, and many pleasant conversations in an agricultural community that works well together.

"We plough the fields and scatter the good seed on the land."  
--text by Matthias Claudius, 1740-1815

largest pumpkins next to my table


Peter Black said...

A warm and delightful reflection on your day of country conversations, Carolyn, and lovely photos, too. Country life - how refreshing for those city and town dwellers in whose hearts the country life still strongly beats. ~~+~~

Carol Ford said...

Thanks sharing Carolyn. I enjoyed hearing about your day at the fair. Sounds like the article in the paper definitely helped. I've signed up for a couple of fall events;it's a nice way to connect with your customers.

Donna Mann said...

Thanks for painting a picture for us to see. Sounds like a wonderful weekend. I've stood at a vendor's table and always appreciated those who stop to chat or purchase. My earlier memories at the fair as a teenager would find my mom in the arena with her produce and me in the stall getting my heifer ready to show.

Carolyn R. Wilker said...

Thank you, Peter, Carol and Donna for your comments. The fair was a great opportunity to see old friends, meet new people and sell my books.

Peter, I was glad I took the iPad along. My husband also took photos with a small camera. I was pleased that so many of them turned out well.

Carol, the three articles in the papers definitely did help sales. These people read their papers and it obviously struck a chord for so many of them, even those who didn't know my father.

Donna, I've never been part of a calf club, but I imagine that could be interesting too. My experience is with the 4-H Homemaking Club.

Popular Posts