A trip down memory lane
Ah, The Warren County Fair.
The sights, the sounds, the smells.
You know the smell I mean…
The Fair is a cacophony of odors. Some of them taken by themselves can assault the senses. But when you mix in the fried bread dough, curly fries and Italian sausage, it creates a symphony that could make anyone yearn for simpler times.
As a Warren native just moving back to the area, visiting The Fair comes with a mixed bag of emotions. There’s the nostalgia, sure, but there’s also a little anxiety.
You see, The Fair means something different to a kid growing up here year after year. At first, it’s all about the rides, the games, and the animals.
But, it’s also the first big event that signals the summer is winding down. For me, the following week marked the start of band camp; which also brought equal amounts of dread and anticipation, as a week or so after that classes resumed at school.
The Fair was like my Facebook of the early nineties. There were friends you kept in touch with all summer, and there were the people you hadn’t seen in two long months.
The crushes, the bullies, the teachers in denim shorts.
Voices and hairstyles changed. You made new friends from different schools and friendships evolved.
Some people shot up several inches taller, some didn’t.
It was the first taste of the year to come.
Now, instead of only two months, it has been more like 20 years.
I’ve been in touch with a lot of people better than I ever was then. But the thing that stuck out to me was The Fair hasn’t changed much.
The rides at Midway, though mostly brand new, look oddly out of place with all of today’s modern technology. I would have thought The Gravitron would be an actual anti-gravity machine instead of a human centrifuge.
But there’s something quaint about seeing the young millennials raised on iPads playing the same games and riding the same terrifying rides I did as a kid. It would make me sad if they didn’t have this experience.
After taking it all in, I can’t help but wonder if the rest of the country could learn a thing or two from Warren County (or Small Town, America). With some complaining about making things great again, I see the people of Warren County hard at work making things great, still. It’s not about moving backward, it’s about examining all the ways in which people can and do lose track of their values.
As far as I can tell, The Fair has always been about teamwork, friendship, love, and diversity.