Monday, July 28, 2008

The County Fair

Maybe it’s the heat.

Maybe it’s the long hours of summer work.

Maybe it’s the repetitive pleas of small people peering up at their parents’ faces in hope.

Whatever the reason, every year at this time the vast majority of the people in the country have a temporary bout of insanity which causes them to take their children to the county fair.

As with most cases of insanity, the afflicted people don’t recognize the lunacy until it’s too late. Such was the case last week when I set off for the county fair with my four children in tow. When we arrived at the fair, we were surrounded by parents who were similarly afflicted with insanity. They were happily paying exorbitant amounts of money for cups of lemonade and food fried in grease. They were walking through rows of livestock that they have seen hundreds of times in their own barns, and they were waiting patiently for their kids to pet the babies in the petting zoo with hands sticky from ice cream.

Then they shelled out even more outrageous sums of money so their children could be flung up into the air on machinery that had been hastily assembled the night before by people of questionable backgrounds. They grinned and snapped pictures as their babies were buckled into seats of toy cars that went round and round, and they thought it was cute when the toddlers found the horn and honked it incessantly for the entire ride.

They waited in long lines so their kids could go on the roller coaster just one more time and thought it was worth it to see the look of wild excitement on their faces as they raced past, arms flailing in the air.

These are all people like me who usually spend a good deal of time making sure that their offspring are clean, fed nourishing meals, and protected from danger. The irony that we would then cart them off to a place to induce sugar highs and send them off to be flung through the air was striking; the fact that we, who are used to being frugal, would pay for the privilege of this experience was even more ironic.

Yet here we all were, carting filthy, exhausted children and empty wallets down the midway toward the parking lot. And, of course, we all stopped to buy a gigantic bag of cotton candy before we went home.

However absurd it sounds, I never questioned why we would engage in such uncharacteristic behavior. It’s one of those things you just naturally sign up for when you have children. You will drive 15 miles to bring them the show and tell project they left at home. You will endure countless sporting events during which they play for 15 seconds at the end of the game. You will pay year after year for the school pictures in which their eyes are crossed, their hair is sticking out, or their shirt is stained with ketchup.

The county fair is a tradition, and no matter how strange it may seem, it teaches the kids a valuable lesson. Tradition is a strong force that holds our families together through the generations. Without it, our farming and ranching communities would cease to exist.

Can all that be taught over an excursion to the fair? Probably not, but someday they will make the connection.

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In the meantime, they had a day of cousin fun that won't soon be forgotten.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

Dee from Tennessee

The memories y'all are making are priceless.

I just love your blog.

Pony Girl said...

Ha. Oh yes, love the reference to the carnival rides being put up the night before, and by questionable people! So true. Not to mention they give you whiplash.
But there is nothing quite like the sounds and sights of a fair and carnival....sigh. Glad your kiddos had some cousin fun!

Mama Bear said...

I agree with Dee...I just love your blog too!!

The memories are so worth the sugar high. :)

Dawn said...

Despite my current suburban lifestyle... I did grow up in small town Ohio and attended the county fair EVERY year. Loved it! Great memories!!!

Jenny said...

Gosh, fair time already!!?? We still have 4 more weeks here. But we do get out of school for it.

My favorites are the funnel cakes and Texas Taters. And seeing all the animals (and hopes that each year my husband will say, "Why don't our kids do animals in the fair next year?"), and signing up for all the freebies being given away in the merchant's building, and talking to every other person we see, and the big dance on the slab on Saturday night, and the stick horse race for the kids...

Though going to said fair while pregnant is just plain ol' misery. LOL!

Treasia said...

I remember vividly the years my parents took me to the county fair. Now I remember taking my 18 yr old every year.

Frazzled Farm Wife said...

The county fair has great memories for me and the State Fair has even more memories. Being a 4-H kid and now a 4-H parent, the fair is a must!

Ann from Montana said...

My great grandparents were the last farmers (Ohio) in my family - but we always went to the fair (Wood County!) and that was the time my grandmother told the stories of her life on the farm and the family history.

I don't have children and I hate heat with a passion AND the fair for my county here in Montana is mid-August so I have not gone in the 14 years I've lived here.

But the childhood memories and the related family stories will always be remembered and cherished.

I have a feeling that no matter what path your children choose, they will remember and cherish these summers and the fairs and the stories as well!

Mum-me said...

Oh dear, you just reminded me that it's only 4 months until the Annual Show (similar to your country fairs) and I'd better start saving! 6 children + one ride each + one piece of greasy fried food each + one ice cream each + one show bag each + one drink each = empty bank account!!

 
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