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Midway

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That Song About the Midway by Bonnie Raitt from Streetlights

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I’m not sure what started my love affair with country fairs. It probably came from visiting the county fair when I was a kid, or maybe it’s just the Gypsy in me that draws me to them? I’m not even sure if I could describe what I like most about them. The colors? The sights? The sounds? The smells? I don’t know. Certainly the horse and pony pulls are a big part of the attraction, and the animals in general. But it’s more than that. It’s a feel …  like that giddy, excited, Christmas morning feeling I used to get when I was a child. I still get that feeling when I’m going to a fair.

But fairs have changed dramatically since the days of my youth. There’s a considerable amount of emphasis on commercial sales of goods and byproducts now, and a lot less focus on exhibits, games and rides. The midway used to be the hub of any fair, with it’s noisy rows of brightly-lit booths packed with colorful stuffed toys and trinkets waiting to be won by young men and women who’d eagerly present their prize to their aptly impressed date. Some fairs even had race tracks for harness racing, demolition derby and a variety of other events. And you could always count on finding several rows of barns chocked full of bleating sheep, softly mooing cows, crowing roosters and clucking chickens. But many of these common fair sights are gone, replaced by a handful of miserable critters in a “petting zoo” and an abundance of booths that want to sell you everything from real estate to religion.

I miss the old-time fairs with their pulsating, vibrant midways. But that won’t keep me from going. No, I’ll still be there “with my ticket stubs and my blues.”

5 responses

  1. Chancy and Mumsy

    State Fairs are just not what they used to be, not here or in the state I grew up in anyway. You are right about them being focused more on selling goods than what fairs should be all about. They are just not fun like they once were. Hugs

    September 8, 2012 at 10:11 AM

    • For awhile I thought it was just me … that my memory of what fairs used to be was skewed or something. But I’m afraid you’ve confirmed my observations; they’ve changed. I’ll still go because I do love them, but I’ll pick and choose more carefully now, hopeful to find the ones that most resemble the fairs of yesteryear. Thanks for adding your thoughts!

      September 10, 2012 at 11:26 AM

  2. I love this! (:

    September 8, 2012 at 10:57 AM

  3. I totally agree…our little county fair was shut down on the last night due to gangs this year…how sad is that? Our area is very rural….for years we were protected more from the gangs and drugs…now you have to be aware and pick and choose more…but I agree, we all have to keep living our lives and not allow someone else to ruin it with creating fear which takes away our freedom!

    September 8, 2012 at 12:34 PM

    • Oh, how sad it is that your fair had to be shut down. Hard to imagine, given the way things used to be. Fairs used to be THE place to go to catch up with old friends. it was like our last fling with freedom before we had to buckle down and start school again. How we loved seeing who’d cut their hair or broken up with their boyfriend over the summer! For some of the kids I grew up with, the fair was the ONLY time they were ever away from their farm. Life was hard, but going to the fair was an acceptable way to kick back and have a good time. I hope next year things improve in your neck of the woods and you can enjoy your local fair again!

      September 10, 2012 at 11:37 AM

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