With the recent news of the ever expanding Big Ten conference, and the systematic destruction of tradition and romance in collegiate football, what better way to fight the demons than turning to tried and true traditions, and celebrate more peaceful and comfortable experience.
For the second year in a row, we went to the county fair. As a matter of fact, we went to two of them recently. You’ll remember last year, I wrote about our visit to the Iosco County Fair, well, we made a return visit to that fair, but added a trip to the Arenac County Fair as well. We were not disappointed. It was just as we remembered, and we left both fairs feeling a bit renewed, and buoyed by the spirit of rural Michigan and the young people who are embracing the traditions and values of their community.
This is an exercise that happens every late summer and early fall, and because of my football commitments, I never had the time to just wander around and take in these yearly rights of passage. When I was young I did. I was an Ingham County Fair guy back then, but as you grow up and get into a career driven mode, the fairs kind of slide away from a yearly adventure, to a “maybe if I have the time,” to a “can’t go,” to a “oh are they still having country fairs?” Well, yes they are and they are very much worth the time.
This year was no different. We strolled through the midway and sampled the decadent food choices. We had to have a funnel cake with the confectioners sugar. C’mon, damn the cholesterol, it’s the Fair! Oh, and the cheesy fries were just awesome. Did I mention the Italian sausage with peppers and onions? All delivered with a smile from the lady in the trailer as she passed the food, and always at the handoff, she uttered my favorite fair line ever, “thanks Hon, enjoy the fair”
The animal barns were once again just wonderful. The kids in 4-H who raised these animals from birth to championship levels, were around to tell you their story, (the animal, not theirs) They gave the animals names and treated them like royalty. From pigs, to lambs, to goats, to chickens, to rabbits and more that I have forgotten. By the way, do you know how many different kinds of rabbits and chickens there are? And goats and lambs and steers, and oh my! Holy COW! I had no idea, but you can sure find out at the county fair.
Why did the sight of a 12 year old big brother walking hand in hand with his 6 year old little brother through the fun house jungle gym bring a smile to my face? I don’t have any idea, but try it, I dare you not to smile. Mom’s and Dad’s strolling down the midway with little ones in tow just enjoying family time is a standard practice at the fairs. I’m sure it happens other places but in the wide open spaces at the county fair, with the sound of ferris wheels and laughter as a back drop, it seemed so much more pure.
verybody is polite, everybody seems to be smiling, even the old guys out by the parking lot, during the hot afternoons, charging you a dollar for admission and parking whether you have two people inside the car or ten. I’m told they sometimes miss a few cars.
I just sneaked a peak at my post about last years fair, and this post is almost a repeat of that one. I was struck then by the appearance of respect, the sense of pride in community, and the environment that seemed to promote family. Nothing changed from last year to this year. I mentioned in last years post how the contrast between the dysfunction in Washington DC and Lansing and the pleasant, peaceful atmosphere at the fairs couldn’t be more stark. Nothing has changed in that regard either.
I said last year that as I was driving home I felt a sense of hope. I felt the same way this year. There are lots of reasons for that hope, and it all comes from those fairs in Iosco and Arenac Counties. There is not nearly as much hope when I watch the news. Thank you Iosco and Arenac county fairs…and all the other fairs across the State and nation. Don’t you ever stop being who you are. You may not know it, but you provide hope to many.