We lived for it. It was our Christmas in the summer. A time when those who moved away migrated back to Darke County once more. A time when people stopped to chat with neighbors and to find faces they had not seen in years.
The excitement was in the air long before August rolled around. Farm kids were preparing their projects and brushing their animals to achieve that perfect, glossy coat. Dreams turned to cotton candy, blue ribbons, stock barns and carnival rides. The Great Darke County Fair is about to open once more as it has since 1853.
I have been to a few county fairs, but indeed none compare to our fair. And, I say ‘our fair’ because it belongs to all of us who ever loved it. I once thought that the fair fell right before it was time to go back to school as a lure to draw us in and make us all excited and happy before the doors closed on us in the classroom. Hm. Guess it had more to do with farmers.
Time for a little baring of the soul. I apologize if it offends anyone, but here goes. I did not like 4-H. I could not sew. Did not want to sew. Did not cook. Did not want to cook. Did not want to raise an animal. But did want to hang out in the stock barns. However, when in Rome……. So I took 4-H. Got a few ribbons. Managed to please my mother and my 4-H leader. What I realize later in life is that my talents did not include cooking and sewing. It just is not in my makeup. You can teach a dog to speak, but it sure isn’t going to speak English. However, I hung in there. I went to the 4-H building and stood looking at my project. Silently thinking, “Whew, glad that’s over.” I guess I wasn’t a very good farm girl. You should have seen me in Home Ec! Argh!!!!
My favorite part of the fair was when as kids we walked around the midway. When little, Brenda and I checked out the rides. When we got a little older, we checked out the boys. Even older, we brought our children. Now when we go, we look for familiar faces and step back in time visiting old memories and missing that other part of our lives and those who shared it with us.
Hopefully, our senior class (now really a senior class) will meet at the fair next year. I think it is the perfect place for class reunions. We will probably all bring pictures of those days gone by. You know, those black and white pictures. We will embrace the days we have had together again remembering those who are no longer with us.
The fair brought us together during the summer months when we had been busy being farm kids. It got us ready for the school year, wanting to reconnect again. We said our farewell to bare feet and lazy days. We knew that this Darke County Fair sendoff was just the beginning with the Pumpkin Show not far behind.
I still have a blue ribbon that I won modeling, I think. At least I am pretty sure it was not for clothing or some delicious culinary achievement. I have an old post card of Donald O’Connor that I got at some booth. Not much from all those years of fair-going, but the memories are immeasurable. They are so many filled with faces from the past. Elgar and Leah, Freeda and Herb, Uncle Bob and Aunt Welma. So many people who had no idea that their lovely faces would still be with me today, especially at fair time.
Happy Fair-going, my friends. Perhaps next year we can go together.
Pamela Loxley Drake is a former resident of Darke County and is the author of Neff Road and A Grandparent Voice blog. 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.