I've seen the signs for weeks. It's been announced on the radio every morning and all the kids at school were excited for it.
Somehow, in all my life, I've never been to a county fair.
Last Friday I decided that we had to go. We just had to. The stories I was hearing sounded hilarious. Cows? Goats? Cotton candy? All in one place?
I spent the day talking TC into it and then got on my phone in the afternoon to see what friends I could recruit.
The fair wasn't exactly in town. With fresh coffee in our hands on Saturday morning, we made the hour long drive out into the country.
I wasn't sure what to expect but every kid I talked to promised me there would be a ferris wheel. Really, that was the sole reason I wanted to go. I could just imagine the views we would see from the top. I envisioned a great big white ferris wheel with sparkling red, blue and yellow lights that would sway in the wind as we reached the top.
As we stood in line to buy our tickets, I stood on my tip toes trying to see if I could spot the ferris wheel. I could see a slide. I could see a carousel and games. But no ferris wheel. Maybe it was down the hill, I thought. Surely that's where it must be.
Once we were in it became very apparent that there was no ferris wheel. But, there was plenty of live stock! Several barns, in fact, filled with all kinds of farm animals to walk through.
With no ferris wheel to ride we spent some time watching a riding competition. As far as I could tell the goal was to ride your horse by the first barrel and grab a big stick. Then you rode as fast as possible to the other end of the ring, where you round another barrel and zip back to the first barrel and try to throw your stick back in. If you make it, the crowd cheers. If you miss, the crowd gives a collective Ohhhhhh... If you paid close enough attention you pick out the parents of the riders. They were the ones standing up with their fists clenched in anticipation.
Of course, there were also plenty of small animals to visit too. Chickens, rabbits, llamas, guinea pigs and even a donkey for Gwen to feed.
My personal favorite was the rows and rows of all the prize winning garden pieces. Sunflowers with blue ribbons, potatoes with red ribbons, peppers, corn, pies, carrots...if it can be grown, it can be judged in the county fair.
I was admiring some potatoes and wondering how exactly potatoes are judged when a nice man told me the blue ribbon potatoes belonged to his daughter. He then went on to show me the second place sunflower that his younger daughter had grown. I asked if they came straight from his backyard and he sort of laughed and said that no, the girls had grown them in the garden club at school. He went on to say that he was proud of his girls and proud to be part of the fair since it was such a nice way to bring their community together.
So, yeah. He's right. Sure, I wish there had been a ferris wheel. But it was an impressive display of community. Down to the cute kids making fresh squeezed lemonade, they were all working together and having a blast.
Ahhh, and my favorite moment at the end of the afternoon - Gwen taking her first ride on the merry-go-round. A little unsure at first, she quickly figured out to hold on and brightened right up with the music started. Based on the tears when she realized the ride was over, I'd say the day was a success....despite the missing ferris wheel.
Maybe next year...
Oh, and if we go next year I'm totally wearing a Duck Dynasty shirt with a picture of Phil on it so that I fit in with the rest of the crowd.