That Song About the Midway by Bonnie Raitt from Streetlights
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.”