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My Ohio: The lure of the county fair is its unchanging style

Posted at 5:39 PM, Aug 22, 2014
and last updated 2017-07-28 12:11:49-04

The county fair has a lure which pulls us all in. 

(If you are not a fan of county fairs, consider yourself in the minority.  If you dislike them, then you may quit reading at this point.  But if you continue to read, by the end of the next few paragraphs, you may be converted into a lover of county fairs.)

I love the county fair.  No matter the county in which it is situated, lead me to a fair and I will find a lot of thinks to hold my interest.  They will always be the things which held my interest when I was young enough to be carried on the shoulders of my dad.

County fairs, with their midways, animal barns, games and amusement rides, are a nostalgic part of the American landscape. The oldest in the nation is said to be in Watertown, New York.  It beat the Great Geauga County Fair of Ohio by about a year. 

When a barker,l who has a baseball in his hand, asks you to try your luck at knocking down three pins a few yards away, you are tempted to give it a try.  No matter that the three weighted pins did not bowl over as you had expected, even when you gave it your best fastball pitch.  It was the game itself which you enjoyed.  County fairs are filled with such interests.

For me, I am a fan of the rides which will whirl, twirl and curl me as they go up and down, and all around.  In their earliest days, county fairs provided a different entertainment for country folks.  When the fair set up, it was like the circus.  The fair people took a wide-open plot of land and built rides on it.  They trucked in foods you would not have an opportunity to try.  When you see funnel cakes, Italian sausage, corn dogs, and fried pickles, you just have to try one of them to satisfy not only your taste, but your curiosity.

County fairs give you that opportunity.  

I was a city kid, so I did not often see cows, sheep and horses.  But at the fair, they they were. Farmers brought in their livestock to be judged. My dad, who did grow up on a farm, would be glad to recount a story from his childhood abut the animals he helped raise. Even in the animal barns, my dad and I found a chance to talk about our lives.

My mother and sister would also be with us and they would find interesting crafts to examine. Throughout the generations, county fairs have not changed that much. Technology always brings in its new tools and implements, but the essence of the county fair has remained much the same. I think that is a reason they continue to be so popular, even in these days of the highly-technical 21st century.

Basically, I believe people do not change that much. I think, in essence, we are as we were centuries ago.  Most of us are family-oriented people who are looking for wholesome entertainment.  We are looking for places to take the kids. We see hundreds of fathers shouldering sleepy-eyed children who are hanging tightly to dad's neck as they have tired themselves walking the midway.

As the sun sets on the county fair, the children have trouble keeping their eyes open, even with all the glitter and sounds of the amusement rides and the barkers' voices and the pigs' squeals.  It is time to go home after a day of fun at a place great-grandpa and great-grandma visited when they were with us.  The spirit of the county fair has not changed.  

Yes, I relish places that are clean and good and wholesome.  County the county fair among them.