I keep thinking that this tradition is going to die but I keep resuscitating it!
I have a long history with our state fair. When I was a child, my parents worked with a Christian ministry who had a booth at the fair. They would tell Bible stories to the children coming through. In those days, the kids would stay and sit and listen while the parents hung around in the area. We even had this strange contraption like a Ferris Wheel but for animals! I’m sure PETA would have been on us like ugly on ape nowadays. In the midway, there were freak shows and rides and any kind of unusual person you could imagine.
After college, I moved back to this great state. In the first months, I was working a job at a Christian talk radio station (no, not as a DJ or a talk show host…) and they needed me to cover their table at the fair. They even gave me 4 tickets to get in so I could take a couple friends. I had met some neat people, some cool cats, at the church class I was going to, so I asked these two handsome young men to go with me (and a gal who looked sweet on one of them just for good measure) and we went to the fair. I had an awesome cinnamon roll that day.
Those two handsome men were MarkandNeil. It became the one name for the two of them. They were best buds and I was their third wheel. We did everything together for five years. We took road trips to Dallas and small plane trips to eastern Oklahoma. We even took a trip around Europe. Best times.
The week Mark proposed to me, he took a state fair cinnamon roll out of the freezer and warmed it up. He saved it for months for that moment.
Mark and I got married and we had a room in our house that was ‘Neil’s room’ for many years. Until we needed it for kids. But probably every year, Mark and I attended the fair. With stroller. With babies. With toddlers. We always had a cinnamon roll.
The last year we attended the fair, Mark was not very healthy. He mostly sat at the cooking demonstrations while I swept through the aisles of the buildings with the kids. We continued to make state fair memories. He always liked to look at the leather booths while I was suckered in by the free things.
As the kids have gotten older, schools don’t let out for ‘fair day’ any more, so we don’t get to go with the whole family. Two years ago I went with one child on her school field trip. Last year my sister and BIL took two of my kids, and included freak shows this time….thanks. This year I am homeschooling so I took those two during the day and we nearly passed out from heat stroke. Seriously. I even offered them to go on a ride, which I NEVER EVER do, but they actually said it was too hot! We did receive a small evergreen tree to plant. And the kids got some caterpillars that will hopefully turn into butterflies. They are pretty excited about it.
So the fair… I have loved it for so many years. I’m not sad when I go. I am thankful for the memories. And I want my kids to have memories to share with others. Sometimes those memories are good. Sometimes they are strange. Sometimes bittersweet. But all the memories together make a beautiful tapestry of life.
And this year, I just had a corn dog, for the record. No deep-fried Oreos or bacon-wrapped chicken-on-a-stick. Just an old-fashioned corn dog.
Collect memories today, friend.