I grew up on the summer tradition of the county fair. My dad served on the fair board, and my mom worked in just about every building and tent at some point. We spent days leading up to the fair checking on progress, then pretty much lived at the fair for a week. We lived only a few miles from the fairgrounds, so we drove home and fell into bed quickly. But there were many nights I sat on the porch roof outside my window and watched the lights of the carnival rides and grandstand.
County fairs have changed through the years. Most have shrunk in size, activities, and attendance. Some have called it quits. There is rarely big name entertainment. It’s no longer a highlight or cost-effective, because people have more access to concerts throughout the year.
County fairs aren’t the same, but for me, they are still sweet. There is a sweetness of community, seeing people I know but don’t see in the summer or people I don’t know – friends and families making an event of the fair, a chance to get together and make memories.
I recently attended the county fair where I now live. The weather was perfect. Fair week weather so often is scorching hot or sopping wet. Not this one.
- The sweetness of smells. Sure, not every country fair smell is sweet, but the mixture of it all is sweet to my memory.
- The sweetness of catching up with a good friend, strolling and talking and sharing life.
- The sweetness of watching the joy on my friend’s daughter’s face and in the skip of her step as she ran from ride to ride.
- The sweetness of a strawberry shakeup. Okay, so maybe it was a bit too sweet, yet it was delicious.
There are many things in my life that have changed in the past couple years, but there are strong threads of consistency, too, reaching through the past. As I left the fair that evening, I took a deep, sweet breath of gratitude for the community and memories God provides and builds on.