I was at the Scott County Fair this past week, and I was reminded that the classic carnival rides, the Ferris wheel and carousel, are still my favorites. Plus, they may be the only ones I can tolerate anymore, and I’m not too sure about the Ferris wheel. When I was younger it seemed that the Tilt–a–Whirl, the Octopus and the Scrambler were the thrill rides. I no longer need to be thrilled that way – besides the new rides are way too scary for me.
But there is so much more to the Fair than just rides. It has taken me several years to appreciate that, however. When my children were younger, they were involved in 4–H and spent almost all day at the Fair, which meant that I would spend quite a bit of the day there as well.
What I didn’t see or notice then was the
aspect of the animal and art projects. Kids in
jeans and boots playing cards with their friends over bales of straw; a 110–pound
girl leading her 300-pound cow around the show ring; a boy proudly displaying
his finished wood project. Americana
At the time I didn’t understand it, and perhaps I do not yet fully appreciate the positive effect it has on both the kids participating it the fair and also their parents who support their efforts. But, of course, there is more than just 4–H at the Fair.
This year the Fair had a bluegrass festival following a church service. The church band featured a guitar, mandolin and banjo. Earlier in the week I played my banjo with the band, No Stone Unturned in the beer garden. Although my skill level is not what it should be, there is a thrill of playing outdoors with the sights and sounds of a county fair surrounding you. If I hadn’t been concentrating so much on my banjo rolls I may have teared up as the emotions rolled over me.
From the stage I could see the food vendors selling pizza, onion rings and other healthy snacks; In between songs, I could hear the fair office announce upcoming activities such as the tractor and tractor pull held later in the evening in the grandstands. People were milling about in front of me, sometimes stopping to wave (or distract me). Just beyond the picnic tables I could see the flashing lights from the carnival.
Behind me in the cattle barn was the Miracle of Birth center. Now in its second year, the center has matured and grown into one of the most popular Fair attractions. What began as just a concept is now able to stand on its own two (or four) legs.
The five days have come and gone again for another year. What used to be a chore and an obligatory activity for me has become something I enjoy and look forward to. I can easily imagine that I will be helping my grandchildren with their 4–H projects someday. You may say I have merrily come around in my thinking.