Not even two years ago, after we closed on some of our land and home here in Kentucky in late August 2007, we returned to New Hampshire and went to our state fair held in Hopkinton over Labor Day weekend. The day was clear, warm, and wonderful and it was still a few days before the boys returned to school for what would be their last semester. We knew our time in New Hampshire was waning and what better way to celebrate all things good about summer? We'd never been to our state fair before and it was just right on the midway and attractions while emphasizing 4-H projects and all things agricultural. And yes, I even blogged about it (the above photo of the tall man and our boys, who have grown even taller themselves in the past 23 months, was taken at that fair, and yes, I forgot my camera yesterday–kick, kick!).
So far we've been to two county fairs in Kentucky and I'm sure they are all different. There are also so many counties in this state–too many to name or count on all hands and feet (New Hampshire has seven). I suppose I expected more of an agricultural emphasis at the county fairs we've attended–Casey and Pulaski–especially as there is still so much active farming in our region. But they were both small fairs with few displays of jams, preserves, crafts and produce and no animals in sight. Then I realized that perhaps that is more at the state level.
But nevertheless, yesterday when coming home from the latest Harry Potter movie with the boys, we did something quite spontaneous (which for two middle-aged parents isn't always possible and is increasingly more rare). We saw that it was the last day of the Pulaski County Fair in Somerset and, better still, a sign saying "Tractor and Truck Pull Tonite." Well, that was all we needed. For $10 per Pond we got into the fair and had unlimited access to the rides and attractions (rides alone can be so expensive if on a per-ride basis). The tractor pull (the trucks came out later) was surprisingly exciting and oddly addictive. [And my son Henry and I decided we were in a live-action episode of MTV's "King of the Hill"]
The midway was manageable and not too crowded and there's nothing like a riot of noise, color, lights, action and the occasional giddy scream to put a smile on your face. I rode a few rides with the kids but nothing prepared me for this twisting, spinning up and down thing, rather like one of those black octopus rides that were always my favorite. [However, I'm certain now this operator had this particular ride cranked to the max.] Our boys were game but we couldn't all fit in one car. So I sat near them in the next one in the cluster of three cars. As I was solo, the ride operator decided to put a teenage boy in with me. This boy was far from happy about the idea but his friends thought it was the funniest thing they'd ever seen. I told him I was a kid at heart and that I promised I wouldn't scream. (He still wasn't really amused or even that friendly.) PHOTO: Our boys at the Cheshire County Fair in New Hampshire, August 2005
Well, the ride started and talk about G-force! Let's just say that if I'd been on it any longer, all of my reproductive parts would have likely centrifuged down into my toes and I would have shape-shifted into some gelatinous goo. Or, perhaps I might have just spun out of time and gone back to the 1970s when roller coaster rides at Cedar Point in Sandusky, Ohio were just a matter of course when my father brought my brothers and I every summer. Needless to say, I am not a youngster any more. Within seconds of take-off I was screaming loudly while trying to watch my boys to make sure they were not getting sick. I could catch a glimpse of my husband's straw hat as we whizzed up and down and all around. When we finally stopped–and I was hoping that moment would come soon–there he was with a big smile on his face. I managed to get out of the car but was rather wobbly for a few minutes. Then, off to the Ferris wheel. That ride was averted as the lightning was returning and a bit too close for wanting to be on the highest point at the fair. PHOTO: The Tilt-A-Whirl, one of the oldest rides on the midway, at the Hopkinton State Fair in New Hampshire, 2007
So home we went: happy, tired and feeling like summer all the way down to our toes.