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Sunday, August 16, 2009

Country Living—Not Just for Farmers

The State Fair started Thursday with a parade and $1 night. By the time I got off work at 6:00, we had already heard that traffic was snarled and you couldn’t get close to the parade route. Without giving it a second thought, I headed north toward home avoiding the whole mess, fair and all.

Our fair always has a theme, and this year the theme is “Rural Lifestyles Showcase” with an emphasis on “Country Living—Not Just for Farmers.” I’m not sure which is really the theme, but it would seem that the Children’s Barnyard beat out the carnival for top billing this year.

The State Fair changes everything in Sedalia and puts a crimp in our rural lifestyle for the duration. Getting across town usually takes about fifteen minutes on a high traffic day, but during the fair, traffic jams up from one end of town to the other. We have two kinds of locals—those who spend a lot of time at the fair, and those who leave town.

I’ve lived in Sedalia since 1972, and I’ve seen a lot of fairs come and go. I have fond memories of Tammy Wynette singing to Jim, a lot of great concerts, free shows at the Bud tent, herding kids through the carnival, corndogs, ice cream and snow cones.

The last time Jim went to the fair, his dementia had advanced to the point he needed to be supervised. I had asked Jim if he wanted to go to the Clint Black concert with me and he emphatically declined my invitation. I made arrangements for my niece, Rhonda, to go with me instead. At the last minute, Jim changed his mind. When I couldn’t get a seat anywhere near ours, I bought two tickets and asked his sister, Ginger, to take him. It was quite an adventure for Ginger to try to keep up with Jim. She had to be pretty quick to pay for the water he pulled out of the barrels in front of the vendor carts. After a busy afternoon and evening at the concert, we walked to the parking lot together. Rhonda and I pulled out, while Ginger and Jim sat in his Nissan truck. I figured they would be along soon. When they finally got home, Ginger told me she turned the lights on, but each time she let go of the knob, they went off. Jim laughed at her, but couldn’t tell her how to get them to stay on. They sat in the lot until Ginger finally figured it out.

Yes, I have fond memories of the fair, but I also remember sunburns, blistered feet, sick kids, lightening and wind storms, and suffocating heat. A few years ago, I took my grandkids to the fair and if they hadn’t helped me find the car, I might still be wandering around the parking lot looking for it. Last year, I found my car after the Air Supply concert, but in the unlit parking lot, I drove around looking for a way out that didn’t involve a deep ditch. I finally followed another car out of the lot that seemed to know where the one driveway was. It almost makes me think I shouldn’t be attending the fair without supervision, at least after dark.

I plan on working a few hours at the Rural Electric Co-op Building this year. That will probably be my one and only time at the country showcase. Other than that, I plan on avoiding town until the fair is over and our rural lifestyle returns.
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