We called it “The Dirty Fair” when we were little and although we begged to go every year, our pleas were rarely heard.  I don’t remember why we started to calling it that, but I have a feeling it came from whatever reasons my mother gave for not wanting to go to it!

Perhaps because we went so seldom, my memories are magical and mythical–made up mainly of bright lights, loud noises, cool breezes, tantalizing smells.  There was the year that I saw the calf with an extra leg growing out of its shoulder, the year I won some money in the spelling bee, the year my classmates and I were bilked out of eight dollars each trying to win stuffed animals, the year I was old enough to take my baby sister alone to ride the kiddie rides.

We’ve taken our kids a few times over the years, but the prices have shot up since I was a child and buying admission and ride tickets for seven people is, to put it mildly, not cheap.  There were years when I made a mental note not to drive down Magnolia Avenue in September lest someone see the rides and start asking to go.

This year it was Emily–aged 24!–who wanted to go to the Fair.  I couldn’t tell you how many years it had been, but it was long enough that 14-year-old William had no memory of it.  He wasn’t sure he was really interested but I when told him there would be animals he said he’d give it a try.

As it happens, the animals (which I didn’t even realize were there when I was a child) were the first thing we encountered.  First rabbits–cage after cage, tiny to giant, little ears to long floppy ones, every color you can imagine.  For some reason I didn’t take pictures of them, but I couldn’t resist photographing these sweet sheep:

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It was time for the sheep to go home while we were in their barn, so we had the fun of watching a border collie herd them into their van!  Then it was onto the chicken barn.  Y’all, I had no idea how many different kinds of chickens there are, and how beautiful they can be!

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We had come straight from school, and we were hungry.  So the next order of business was food.  And we all knew what you are supposed to eat at the Fair.

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After we ate, we took a look at the flyer we were handed when we arrived, and took note of all the interesting entertainment that was offered that day.  It had never occurred to me that the kids would want to watch shows, but they were very excited to watch the Frisbee-catching dog act:

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Later we caught an hour-long hypnotist show.  I had seen one when I was in college and knew what to expect, but William in particular was amazed and enthralled.  It was hilarious.

We also enjoyed the photography display and the winners of the cake decorating contest in the exhibition building, and wished we had time to look at more of the exhibits.  But a fair isn’t a fair without the rides, so . . .

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I did not ride anything.  Rides that spin in circles make me sick, and as I’ve gotten older I’ve become scared of roller coasters (perhaps especially ones that are designed to be dismantled and moved from place to place!).  William is also not a big ride fan, so the only one he was interested in trying out was the Haunted House, which he enjoyed.  He also went into one of the few remaining “Freak” shows, which purported to contain a woman with the body of a snake as I recall.

Lorelei loves rides, and did not find the Native American tent we visited next as interesting as the rest of us did,  But William was very interested in the different knives in particular, and Emily and I enjoyed listening to some flute playing and a short history lesson about the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.

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Then it was time for the fireworks, and we found a nice place to sit on the far side of the lake to watch them.Fair 14Fair 17

We had a great time, and wished we could have spent the whole day there.  We would not have run out of things to do!  I don’t think Emily will have to try as hard to convince me to go next year.

Is there a fair where you live?  Do you like to go?


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