Monday, September 30, 2013

Hooray for the fair! (And I don't have to go.)

I have a confession to make.

I never really liked going to the Tuscarawas County Fair.

There. I said it – got it off my chest.

That’s not to say I don’t like the Tuscarawas County Fair because I know that if I said that, I probably would be shunned forever by native-born Tuscarawas County folks. Not liking “The Fair” is akin to treason in these parts.

I just never liked going to it. My kids, of course, thought the fair was the highlight of the year so I did my duty, traipsing through mud and straw and junk to “enjoy” the pigs, goats and cows.

And the carnival games. And the rides. And the junk food. And the tractor pulls.

Oh, boy.

My non-love affair with the Tuscarawas County Fair started many years ago when I got in line at the Grange lunch counter, finally being able to order a hamburger after a long wait.

“Can you put some cheese on that?” I asked.

“No,” replied the Grange lady. “We don’t have any cheese.”

In fact, if I remember correctly, there were few condiments available for that coveted Grange hamburger that everyone fawned over – maybe a little ketchup and mustard but nothing else. No onions, no pickles, no special sauce.

Big disappointment, Grange ladies.

With all due respect.

In a piece I wrote for the local daily newspaper, I told of my experience with the condiment-less burger. It wasn’t criticism actually. I just thought – in 9 1/2-point text forever laid down on brilliant white newsprint – that perhaps the next year the Grange ladies might offer cheese on the burger.

The Grange ladies and about a thousand or so of their supporters (it seemed like that) let me have it in no uncertain terms. I think it was one of the times I was chastised for “not being from around here.” I learned from that experience that I should keep my thoughts about “The Fair” pretty much to myself.

I was thinking about the piece while listening to WJER owner Gary Petricola relate during a “fair update” segment this week that he had interviewed 19 sets of fair kings and queens. God love him, I thought.  He’s a stronger man than I.

So, this is kind of a true confession moment for me. Being a kid from the city, the culture of “The Fair” was wasted on me. I just wasn’t into it.

As irony would have it, however, I am proud to announce that my 4-year-old grandson Brendan finished in third place in the (ahem) kiddie tractor pull contest at this year’s Geauga County Fair, qualifying him to compete in next year’s Ohio State Fair in Columbus.

He got his picture on the front page of the local newspaper. Grandpa is very proud.

So, there’s a distinct possibility I’ll be on the fair circuit next year, following my grandson (good gene pool obviously) in his quest for greatness on the kiddie tractor pull track.

And that ultimately might lead us to the Tuscarawas County Fair.

Bring it on. I’ll be there.

Dick Farrell writes this column weekly for the Bargain Hunter.

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