For many years now, our little town has held a fair on the grounds just south of the community building and underneath the water tower. Though the livestock has already been shown and sold at the county fair, people come together here for food, fellowship and old-fashioned fun.
The new Senior class opens up the concession stand doors to new sales and a new year as they work long hours flipping and selling burgers along with pop, candy, and chili dogs. Friends gather to discuss their summer frivolities and opinions on those first days of classes since school gave a reprieve from a day of study.
The tennis courts turn into a stage for cheerleader's dances and crowds sit on wooden planks across hay bales to listen to the country-western band.
Saturday evening brings the parade as young and old set up lawn chairs in their favorite spots, seeking refuge from a muggy Kansas day.
The High School band lines up with colorful flags and shiny brass tubas. Local princesses dress in finery, sharing smiles and keeping things light and in perspective. In place of convertibles, they ride together in the back of a bright orange truck, emblazoned with flames and laugh as they wave to their friends and families.
The National Anthem is sung and all rise, placing hands over hearts. Gentlemen's hats are removed as veterans somberly carry the flag; their quiet voices calling out the steps. Firemen and emergency workers throw candy at excited children who run bravely to the street and come back with fistfuls of treats for their pockets.
In any small town parade, after the trucks and before the horses come the tractors. Past, present and future farmers drive relics from yesterday slowly down the street and observer's nod in remembrance, reflecting on the good old days.
Little ones wave to grandpas and brothers and cameras click away to record precious moments.
A pork loin supper follows as all fill up their plates with the juicy, smoked meat and gather around picnic tables for supper. The sounds of the Sizzler, Ferris Wheel and Bullet fill the evening air, gearing up for a busy night. Crowds gather at the BINGO table and the carnival as everyone wants to try his luck. And the games begin.
The fair is a special time for our town. People come back to reunite with loved ones and share a night of simple enchantment. Though I didn't grow up here, it has become an annual ritual that I look forward to with the beginning of the school year. Now that the kids are older, they don't need me to chaperon them anymore and though I'm somewhat at a loss, am free to roam the grounds with my husband as we take our traditional ride on the Ferris Wheel.
As the evening fades into night, and the fair winds down, families depart to continue reunions at home and friends share tears and hugs as they go separate ways; some leaving for college while others go back to their new lives, away from the place they once called 'home'. It is a time of music and memories, coming together and shared laughter...and it is a special moment in the life of our little town.
By Sunday there is no trace of the fair; the rides are dismantled and traveling to the next place of fun, and the sounds of laughter have disappeared into the sultry sunshine. Still, it lingers on our faces and in the air as we carry its remnants in our hearts to draw upon until next year.
Thanks for the memories. What a time we had!