Fair Week is probably the most wonderful week of the year if you are young, healthy, and live in Darke County.
When I was a youngster, I was a city kid so the Fair meant fun. We went as a clan with my mother’s relatives. There were cousins by the dozens to run with all over the fairgrounds.
The older ones taught us all they knew, and we passed it on to the younger ones. We were quite safe because Grandma and Grandpa Howard were usually sitting in the space under the grandstand meeting and greeting old friends.
By our teens we knew that if we screamed really loud on the rides we got longer rides, especially on the boring ones because others would buy tickets to see what they were missing. We also knew we could work in stands and make money, or we could volunteer to work for various organizations and have fun.
As young parents we were allowed a few carefree hours at the Fair while the grandparents babysat our little ones. That almost created a problem one time. My husband decided to try to win a stuffed toy. I cheered him on, and he actually did win one. It was a stuffed black poodle, really cute.
The problem occurred to me when we were leaving the fairgrounds – one toy, four little kids at home. By the time we got home, the problem was solved. One of the children had developed a fever while we were gone. She really looked sick, but her eyes lit up when she saw the poodle.
For a long time after that the stuffed poodle was the “sick puppy.” Whenever someone was ill, they got the poodle to keep them company. When everyone was healthy the poodle sat on the dresser in our bedroom.
Taking our eight children to the Fair was a treat. We never felt secure enough to just turn them loose until they were old enough to get there on their own. So my husband went on rides with the older ones, and I watched the younger ones go around in circles. The rides always came first while their stomachs were empty.
Grandma and Grandpa Gauvey took them to see the animals the first day of the Fair, but we usually took them to see the vegetables and cakes in the Coliseum.
Of course we played the games – the ones which gave a prize every time. And every year they excelled at winning goldfish. We kept a big fish bowl on hand all year, and they filled it during Fair Week, but it was usually empty shortly after.
There was one exception, a fish named Goldie. It became quite a pet and lasted almost a whole year before it was murdered. Well, maybe it was an accident. The 4 year old decided to feed the fish some peanut butter. She stuck it in his mouth with a table knife. While I was looking for something to bury it in, the kids went out and planted it in the yard with a kernel of seed corn, like the Indians did.
The tradition of winning goldfish lives on with the grandchildren. A few years ago I received a phone call from a granddaughter. Her Fair fish had gone belly up, and since I was in the Funeral Choir at our Church, she wanted me to sing while she flushed him away. We had a telephone duet.
Back in our child-raising days we bought bags of 10-cent ham sandwiches and a gallon of orange drink for dinner at the Fair, and we enjoyed the show in the old WDRK building while we ate. Then we went to wherever they wanted to buy their dessert. It was seldom that any two of them wanted the same thing.
But then, in no time at all, they were all grown up, and Bill and I were Grandparents. We didn’t sit under the grandstand. We were more likely to be in the Democratic tent, first to decorate it, and then to meet and greet the folks who came to the Fair. We usually found time to graze our way over the grounds and to buy some goodies to share on our front porch as we watched the traffic going to the Fair.
This year I hope that the Fair will have one of my favorite forms of transportation – the motorized handicapped carts, or bumper cars as I fondly call them. Maybe I’ll have to go out and give them a try.
Perhaps I’ll see you at the Great Darke County Fair.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: This column was first published in the Greenville Advocate Aug. 22, 2007.
Kathleen Floyd is a volunteer citizen columnist, who serves The Daily Advocate readers weekly with her column Back Around the House II. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.