Sunday, July 23, 2006

Neshoba County Fair

Today, we finally made it to the fair. Every time I walk through the entry I am bombarded by memories of fairs past. I remember trying to act tough on the scary rides, spying on a boy I liked, trying to look great to impress said boy when it was 98 degrees and had sweat making rivers in the dust on my face, holding hands, and begging Daddy to let me stay out later than ten o'clock. The band started at nine and one hour of dancing was just not enough.

Many things are exactly as I left them - Founder's Square with the pavilion where the bands played, the midway, the garish assortment of fair cabins, traditions and reunions. There are some upscale cabins now, complete with air conditioning and separate bedrooms and baths, but there are some of the old, too. The old cabins don't have windows or screens. The inhabitants, usually multi-generation families, sleep in one big second floor room, or on the porches. Today, I saw a great grandfather teaching fiddle to a little one. They were in front of one of the less modern cabins. I think that eating, sleeping, and living in such close quarters without amenities would make you know someone better, faster.

Though sitting on one of the hundreds of porches reminiscing is the main activity of the week for the older crowds, the younger entertain themselves racing mules. You read correctly. Mules! There are races for adults, children, and small children. Today, a tiny girl was plopped atop a mule and the race started. A couple of steps in the mule revolted and jerked around. The little girl fell, but a man who realized trouble was brewing ran up and grabbed the reins and the little girl. Once I saw that the little girl was safe, I couldn't help laughing. The man grabbed the little girl by the back of her jeans and was hanging her upside down while dancing around with a very disobedient mule. What were the parents thinking, letting a four year old race a mule.

We have horses in Neshoba County, too. Trotters dominate the grandstand fair week. Excitement, grace, danger - a place to sit down in the shade to eat your hand dipped corndog and drink your super sweet lemonade. What more could a person ask? We didn't stop at the corndog and lemonade. I remember a funnel cake, chicken on a stick, popcorn, and several bottles of water. I am sure more food was purchased because both of the children are complaining now that we are back home.

Of course, great tasting but not so healthy food combined with fair rides and the thrill of competition against the not so even odds of the fair midway vendors is not soothing. Both the children broke balloons with darts to win prizes. They each went three for three. My children aren't daring so we didn't have to endure any of the scary rides only enough of the mid range rides to make anyone sick. Next on the list of things to do was a visit to the exhibition halls to compare our produce and jars to others. Then, we went to the livestock barns to see the beef cattle show.

We had a wonderful time. I'm not ready to be a cabin family. Living a few miles away and visiting when I get ready, then coming home to a quieter place is certainly a more peaceful option. I stayed a few nights at the fair when I was younger and sleeping is not a real possibility until the band has finished, the midway is closed, and the daily fair goers have gone home. As a trade off for a peaceful night sleep, you get to make connections with people, experience the rhythms of fair life, or have the ultimate people watching porch perch.


Hornblower said...

Wow. I've never been to a country fair. I'm a city girl though we had distant farm kin back in Europe & stayed there for a while each year. During communist times, there were frequent food shortages & rationing, and everyone who knew anyone at all on a farm, no matter how far stretched the family connection, nurtured it carefully as it was often a good way to get some desirable things. In exchange, we'd bring something exotic from the cities. It was very rustic - no plumbing; milk was unpasteurized and straight from the cow. :-) But I don't think they did the fair thing there - not like this anyway. It was a hard living & the farm collective always breathing down their necks & I don't recall them doing things like this.....

wisteria said...

The city has exciting activities, too! I took a break from the country and lived in the city for a while. I enjoyed the festivals and huge fireworks shows only cities can afford.

I don't think other county fairs are like this. In fact, The Neshoba County Fair was featured in the National Geographic several years ago. The state fair, though the midway is larger and the livestock finals are held, is a let down.

zilla said...

Odd. This took me back to a place I've never been. Lovely :-)

Becky said...

I love the sound of those cabins! That would definitely make life easier for the rest of the week, though there's definitely something to leaving the fair behind and coming home to one's fair-less house...

Best thing about being an adult and a mommy is having sweat/dust rivers and not minding lol. And not having to act tough on the rides. I used to love the Tilt-a-Whirl but three pregnancies must have done something to my inner ear.

Up here, though not at our fair thank goodness, they have "mutton busting" for the kids -- plopping them on sheep. Gah.

Glad you had such fun!


wisteria said...

Mutton Busting? Have the sheep been trained at all? I'm glad they haven't thought of that here.

Zilla, I'm glad I could provide a virtual vacation. You did the same for me with the Air Show footage. We used to live close to the lake in Chicago - not as close as you, but close enough to be annoyed and shaken. My husband actually thought it was great that we didn't have to go to the beach and stand or sit with the others. I always said, "Those people have a choice to be there. We don't!"