Thanks for the county fair memories


I hope you read the wonderful fair memories readers shared in our July 22 issue. We were worried at first, when only one or two trickled in, but our readers didn’t disappoint us and there were tales of helping hands, tomfoolery and romance.

I couldn’t help but notice that a lot of married couples first met at the fair. At least six readers shared those special memories; who knows how many more county fair couples there are out there?

If you think about it, what better place to determine compatibility than the fair? Is he willing to carry that stupid stuffed animal he won throwing darts at balloons or is he too cool? Does she wrinkle her nose in the livestock barns? Is he a good euchre partner? Did she wear brand new tennis shoes and expect them to stay clean?

Love story. I loved the story Marty Vebelun of Lisbon shared. She and her future husband Russ went to the fair on their first date, which may not seem unusual until you learn that Marty lived in Massillon – 52 miles from the Columbiana County Fairgrounds. Russ drove 52 miles to pick her up, they drove 52 miles over the fair (where she stepped in manure, which he graciously scraped off in the grass), he drove her home, then made the 52-mile trip back to his home.

They were married the next May and haven’t missed a county fair in the 41 years since.

Rural heritage. Each county fair means something different to different people: the people, the animals, the smells, the rides, the adults and the youth. But fairs also evoke a sense of community, of our rural heritage.

It’s “old home week,” when you have the time to talk to an acquaintance from across the county you may not see very often. It’s a family and a class reunion rolled into one.

It’s fair fries and ice cream from the dairy boosters. Or Lerch’s Doughnuts if you’ve ever been near the Wayne County Fair!

There’s a lot of nostalgia wrapped up in fair week, even as today’s youth are creating their own fair week memories. And traditional family values surface at the fair.

For nonfarm fair visitors, it’s a time to learn or relearn the link between farmers and food on the table.

Some nonfarm folks get involved with a county fair, perhaps as a volunteer or through their children, to rekindle that sense of community, of belonging to something bigger than their cul-de-sac.

County fair organizers today, however, face a tough challenge between traditional exhibitors and fair-goers and a sophisticated fair visitor who demands to be entertained. Give me big-name musical artists. Give me glitz. It’s a struggle.

Make your own memories. If you missed sending us your favorite county fair story, save it for next year: We’ll be asking for more in 2005.

And if your county fair isn’t over for this year, make some new memories (and maybe even meet a prospective spouse!). Have fun!


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