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.