When I was nine, my family rented a house in the country. The property wasn’t a working farm, in fact the landlords ran a landscaping business, but there were a few wonderfully derelict old outbuildings and a lot of room to run around. Wheat grew across the gravel road, and corn and soybeans filled in the surrounding sides. In the winter our road turned to a sheet of ice that nobody bothered to salt. Maybe it helped that my secret dream as a child was to be Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I loved living there. By the time I was eleven we had bought a house in town, and my time as a country girl faded into a sweet memory.
It wasn’t until I was in college that I dipped my toe back into all things country. A few of my friends and I went down to the county fair to see Tracy Byrd perform. Our county fair is always the week after Labor Day, so the weather is either incredibly hot or pleasantly Fall like. When we went down for the concert, the air was soft, the warmth of the day receding while just a hint of chill crept in around the edges.
We didn’t have tickets, but we figured we could listen from the outside of the grandstand. By some twist of luck, the guy watching the gate let us into the general admission area without tickets. We had a blast, but it wasn’t the concert that reignited the magic of the country for me that night. It was on the drive home, with an orange slice moon hanging in the sky and the chilly-warm air snaking in through the cracked windows as we drove through shadowy halls of drying corn stalks.
(Not the official video, but this was the song that was big from him that year.)
Ever since, the Fair has held a special place in my heart. We go every year, and in the past few years my sons have started exhibiting in various categories. I’m so impressed and proud of them for putting their creations out there. That, in and of itself, is enough reason to exhibit, but there are other intangible lessons that they learn that makes me glad that they keep doing it year after year.
Sometimes they win, and sometimes they don’t. When they do, the pride is unsurpassed. And when they don’t, they grieve a little, feel the raw edge of disappointment, but then move on to thoughts of what they want to exhibit next year.
When you walk through all the buildings and see all the things that people exhibit, you can’t help but feel inspired. We stopped by the Fair Museum yesterday, and we saw a display of a woman who exhibited for 60 years (only missing one year). The notes said that she usually brought two carloads of things every year. To some that might sound excessive, but being part of the Fair community, I understand why she did it. There’s just something about it.
|My older son's blue ribbon apple pie!|
We’re headed back today, rain or shine, and I can’t wait!