Fair week! When I was in school, the county fair marked the end of summer, the beginning of fall, and the beginning of the school year. So, the Fulton County Fair was truly the last “hurrah” of summer. A time to celebrate the last days of summer vacation as well as the beginning of a new school year. And celebrate we did – at the fair.
My dad never missed a county fair in all his 80 years. He was proud of that. When a member of the Lawrence Welk musical group was the headline for the Labor Day evening show at the grandstand, Dad was greatly thrilled when that well-known man came across the race track and shook his hand. He probably didn’t wash that hand for a week!
The fair was different then – smaller, more community-based. Year after year, Dad parked at the northwest corner of the Merchants Building. I always knew where to find the car. Likewise, I knew where to find him and Mom if I arrived after they had gone to the grandstand, as the seats they got were always in the same general vicinity.
During high school years, along with other horse owners/lovers, I took my saddle horse to the fair. I was rather miffed that Dad wouldn’t allow me to stay overnight with my horse as other teens did. (Of course, those other teens were boys! No place for a girl!) We rode our horses up and down the double midway! Fairgoers knew to watch for horse droppings.
I was asked to outride for the harness races one year. Those in the grandstand got an extra thrill when the outrider (ME!) was called to the judges’ stand for instructions. I had no sooner gotten there, on horseback of course, when the performing band on the stage struck up a rousing tune.
When Dad bought this horse, the instructions were: she was gentle, well-broken, but “keep her away from bands.” When the band struck that first chord, she took a big breath and broke the saddle girt, taking me to a position directly under her, a position I soon found to be the dirt of the race track. She stood straight up on her hind legs and took off around the track! Now we understood that warning, “Keep her away from bands.” Had it been timed, I’m sure she set a speed record that day.
I was unhurt, and started across the infield to catch her. About half way across, I was met by the man who had sold her to us. He was now leading her. His comment? “I sold her to you. Do I have to stay around and catch her for you, too?” Lots of sympathy there!
Nonetheless, memories were made.
Well anticipated each year was the day designated for residents of the Fulton County Home, where Dad was superintendent, to go to the fair. Straw bales were placed on the bed of a hay wagon for seating during travel, able-bodied residents were helped onto the wagon, and the mile and a half trip by tractor and wagon began. Fair activities for these residents started with the picnic lunch which was safely ensconced on the wagon as well. A far cry from today’s offering of “fair food.”
One of the best memories of all time (all MY time, that is) has nothing at all to do with the fair. It is the day I realized that because I know and love Jesus Christ, I am assured of a place in heaven, that reservation paid for with Jesus’ blood – a promise to all who believe in Him.
Make your reservation today if you haven’t already done so. Ask Jesus into your heart and life. Trust Him. Love Him. Rest in His assurance! Even better? It’s free!
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