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October 31, 2014
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The Warm Gooey Part of Me and the Fair

I like the fair…I like the fair…I like the fair. Nope! It isn’t working. No matter how hard I try to convince myself it just doesn’t work. I really, really, really, want to like the fair. I want to enjoy the sights and sounds. I want to enjoy walking up and down the midways. I want to be thrilled with seeing the little bunnies, pigs, goats, sheep, cows, and horses. But! (Yes, there is a big BUT.) After 20 years of covering the fair all I can think of is the extra work it causes.

I’ve been told that if I write anything remotely negative about the fair I stand a chance of being evicted from the county. Please don’t get me wrong. This little pity party I’m having for myself has nothing to do with the fair itself. Our fair is the greatest there ever was, is or will be. I’ve been to others and none can compare, including the state fair.

I do have great memories from the fair and most of them revolve around food. When I think about the many times my family has sat on a bench near the Gazebo and devoured a Rismiller funnel cake I feel all warm and gooey inside. I’m guessing the warm gooeyness is fat from the weight I’ve gained eating funnel cakes. Then there’s the memory of seeing my oldest daughter’s face light up the first time I gave her a fried cheese curd. We both thought we had died and gone to a fried food lovers’ paradise. Memories like that one have gone a long way in softening my dislike of the fair. If I’m smiling at the fair it is because I am on my way to get or have already eaten a deep fried Wick’s Pie, Arcanum Farm Families Apple Dumpling, Apple Cider Slush or Grumpy’s BBQ. I’m smiling just thinking about it.

Food isn’t the only reason for me to lay aside my self-serving dislike of the fair. I do have other memories that don’t involve anything being fried. The greatest of which has to do with my fair-loving wife. The Darke County Fair was our first official date. She had just purchased a pair of white Sketchers and the fair was one of the first places she wore them. It rained. She complained about the rain. The shoes didn’t stay white.

I love watching my daughters show their dogs and seeing their smiles when they make it through a show without their dog doing its business in the ring. Forget the ribbons. If our dogs don’t poop in the ring we feel like we’ve won.

We once had a new writer join us in time for the fair. He knew nothing about farm animals. One of the other writers wanted to test his knowledge and asked him if he knew what a gelding was? His answer – “Some kind of bird.” Wrong! Needless to say – he didn’t cover the horses for us.

My favorite memory of the fair (other than the first date with my wife because that one has to be my favorite – she said so) is the deal I made with Darryl Mehaffie. He was a fairboard member at the time and we worked it out where I would bungee jump if he would climb the rock wall. Darryl has an extreme fear of heights, but almost made it to the top when his fear took over. He started to turn pale, panicked a little and had to come down. I didn’t think I had a fear of heights until… I stepped to the edge of the bungee jump platform and I made one little mistake. I looked down. The attendant started counting down and I realized I was putting my life in the care of a stretchy rope. If it didn’t snap – I might survive. If it snapped – I might not. When he said 3-2-1 Bungee I did what any normal idiot would do. I jumped.

I guess there is a warm gooey part of me that almost likes the fair. BUT! (That’s my big but, again.) I still don’t like the extra work.

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