Fall fair triggers happy memories

Published 1:50 am Saturday, September 30, 2017

I saw a big billboard advertising the upcoming Covington County Fair today as I drove home from the beauty shop. Later as fair thoughts floated through my head, I touched my right knee, feeling for a scar. I have always called it my fair scar. It is still there.

I could hardly wait for Thursday afternoon during fair week when I was growing up. When the Alabama State Fair opened in Birmingham, some 25 miles from our community, we always went on Thursday, my parents’ afternoon off. My mother checked me out of school early and we rushed home to get dressed. I impatiently awaited my daddy’s arrival from work. He got off at noon. Sometimes he had to work past noon and showed up maybe 30 minutes late. It seemed like hours to me.

One Thursday afternoon as I fidgeted in my bedroom, waiting on Daddy, I accidently scraped my knee on the corner of a daybed. It cut my knee, but I didn’t want to tell my parents, thinking it might prevent us from going to the fair. The wound bled, so I couldn’t hide it from Mother. She doctored and bandaged it. And she soothed my fears; yes, as soon as Daddy got home, we would still leave for the fair.

My head whirled with visions of bright whirling lights, a Ferris Wheel, the Merry-go-Round, stuffed animals, cotton candy, the smell of hot dogs, screams, laughter and music.

One year as a high school student, I went to the fair with several of my girl friends. We guzzled soft drinks, ate cotton candy and junk food. We traipsed up and down the noisy midway, weaving in and out of the crowd, and sizing up numerous rides and tossing coins for glitzy trinkets. None of us won a stuffed animal, but occasionally came away with a cheap toy.

My more adventurous friends eagerly hopped on a Ferris wheel and other thrill rides. I could never muster the courage to ride a Ferris wheel. I stood there and watched them screaming their heads off when they sat stopped at the highest point. That was just not for me. That same fair day, we purchased tickets to a side show of which our parents would have disapproved. As we tucked our chins down and tried to hide in the crowd exiting the show, several boys we knew saw us, resulting in some unwelcome teasing.

When my husband and I took our four-year-old to his first fair, he begged to ride in some rolling cars. We hesitated because we thought he was too young. Finally we gave in. He waved as the cars started rolling. Then all we saw was his little cap sticking up when the cars rounded a curve. To our relief, he flashed us a big smile and waved as the cars rolled back in sight.

Even today, thoughts of sights, sounds and smells of fair time trigger happy memories of times long past.


Nina Keenam is retired from the newspaper business. Her column appears on Saturdays.