From Smalltown Marshall: “The Fair’s In Town!”

Last year while in America, I just missed our county fair which every summer stays for a week at our county fairgrounds located here in Marshall.

When I was kid, this was the big summer event, filled with specialty food stands and crazy amusement rides that had your head spinning and your stomach churning after each dizzying spin.

Numerous organizations had their booths out, selling raffle tickets for their causes.  Displays of locals’ artwork, homemade baked goods, crafts and collections graced tables inside the fairgrounds’ meeting hall.  The fair queen contest, cattle judging events, horse racing and the demolition derby (the closing attraction of the fair) brought out the crowds in droves.

Today’s county fair is a bit different than when I was a kid.  It doesn’t bring quite the novelty or attendance that it once did but our Clark County council is still determined to host this carnival every year.  And we area residents are certainly glad of it.

The 2013 Clark County Fair

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         I haven’t been to our local fair in years so this time around, I made sure to enjoy several visits. Family Attractions from Georgia was the city’s hired group to bring us our yearly entertainment.  A new system of one $5.00 entrance fee per person gave everyone free rides rather than pay for each ride individually. This caused longer lines than usual for the Ferris wheel and the wilder, up-side-down tumbles of other mechanical entertainment wonders and brought out a higher attendance than usual.

$5.00 a person allowed anyone to enjoy as many rides as wanted, including parents with their kids.

$5.00 a person allowed anyone to enjoy as many rides as wanted, including parents with their kids.

A short-term pass, given at the gate, would allow an attendee 30 minutes to pick up food or visit booths within that time limit.  When returning, the person’s $5.00 was reimbursed.  This definitely enticed us older folk, not at all hyped on amusement rides, to quickly slip in and indulge in all those fattening goodies we most likely wouldn’t have if not for that 30-minute pass.

We can blame some conniving fair committee member for that sly, clever maneuver.

Ice-cream waffle cones, cheesy fries, pizza slices, cotton candy, home-dipped corndogs, pork burgers --- Walking this carnival roadway will lead to several unwanted pounds.

Ice-cream waffle cones, cheesy fries, pizza slices, cotton candy, home-dipped corndogs, pork burgers — Walking this carnival roadway will lead to several unwanted pounds.

My Dad’s Donkeys on Display

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          I took the 30-minute pass on several occasions to visit the Clark County Democrat’s table set-up.  My father’s collection of political donkeys and pins was displayed as an eye-catcher for people to stop by and see what the Democrats have been up to.

Just a few of my dad's many Democrat items put on display at the fair.

Just a few of my dad’s many Democrat items put on display at the fair.

Our Republican Party was in the space next door, showing the crowds that  many in our community are committed to government involvement at all levels, no matter what philosophies or party affiliations they might have.

Democracy in action!

On the first day of the fair, I drove my dad over to make sure his donkeys were positioned just right on the table and to check out how things were going.  He was very pleased to see all his items neatly lined up, carefully arranged and positioned for the public to enjoy.

My dad, Bill, making sure his donkeys are in proper displaying order.

My dad, Bill, making sure his donkeys are in proper displaying order.

At the fair together, my dad and I.

At the fair together, my dad and I pose for a father-daughter photo.

An Evening Stroll to the Fair

2013 fair pictures 008 

The last night of the fair, my mom and I walked our Chinese immigrant rescue dog, Xiao Lao-lao (Little Old-old), down to the fair to let him enjoy our town’s festivities.  We stayed outside the carnival area, mostly because our diminutive canine wasn’t too keen on sidestepping so many people, but I did get some nice photos of the lit rides from a distance.

Seeing the sparkling, grandly shining, multi-colored stretch of festival lights before us brought back just as much excitement as when I was a kid, in the 1970s, and when my mom was a youngster, in the 1930s.  Nice to know the child-like spirit of fair week is still present in both of us.  I’m sure it will remain so for years to come.

My mom and Lao-lao, dazzled by the night life of fair week.

My mom and Lao-lao, dazzled by the last night of fair week.

From smalltown Marshall, Illinois, here’s wishing you Ping An (Peace) for your own community’s fair week, whenever or wherever that may be.

About connieinchina

I have been in the Asia region for 18 years as an English language teacher. 13 of those have been spent with the Amity Foundation, a Chinese NGO that works in all areas of development for the Chinese people. Amity teachers are placed at small colleges throughout China as instructors of English language majors in the education field. In other words, my students will one day be English teachers themselves in their small villages or towns once they graduate. Currently, this is my second year in Guangxi Province at the 3-year college, Guangxi Normal University for Nationalities. The college is located in smalltown longzhou, 1 hour from the Vietnam border.
This entry was posted in A Visit Home to America, Smalltown American Life. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to From Smalltown Marshall: “The Fair’s In Town!”

  1. Kate says:

    Cotton candy, snowcones, and funnelcakes……oh, the sugar, but so tasty!
    Tell your Dad “Many Thanks” for his efforts on the part of the Party……need so many more in TX.
    Do you know yet where you will be going to speak about your experiences in China?

  2. Sharon White says:

    Thanks for sharing! I love small towns!

    Sent from my iPad

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