This weekend is fair weekend. When I was growing up, the school gave us at least half a day off on the Friday of fair week, and kids got in for half price on that day, as well. One of the best things about walking into the fair was the display of tractors and farm equipment, right as you came in. I think every kid that came into the fair climbed on at least one of those tractors. Then came the travel trailers and the mobile homes. I think we at least peeked into every one. I remember buildings full of animals on display, school artwork on display, and so many other arts and crafts as well. There were six or eight old barracks buildings that held them all, and we would stroll from building to building, pausing to watch the duelling melodramas performed by the high school drama classes. Each school would take a turn performing, with the audience changing between each play. In the meantime, students in costume would stand outside the area and try to entice people in to watch. We always saved the midway for last, of course, and would finally ride home tired, and happy.
Ron and I took Raine to the fair Friday night. The tractor display is still at the entrance, but no-one gets to climb on them any more. There was one mobile home on display, and no travel trailers. The animal barns seem smaller, and there are fewer animals shown, although the livestock auction was going strong while we were there. There is one building for commercial displays, and another for the judged arts and crafts. Although there was another building for some of the school art displays, the number of arts and crafts entries seemed smaller than last year, not to mention my memories of crowded displays from my childhood.
I want the fair to be that great memory I have from my childhood, but it isn't. It's smaller. In some ways, it seems smaller in that I-remembered-it-as-bigger way, but I think that fairs are out of fashion. The area is increasingly urban, and there are fewer people willing to compete in those farm and ranch and homemaking craft sorts of activities. Oh, sure, 4H is there, but the schools don't seem to have the presence they once did. Yes, people go out for the carnival rides, but there is so much missing, to me.
Then, in the middle of my nostalgia, I was sitting and watching the people go by, and I saw a fairly young woman, walking with three young children. With my nostalgia eyes, I thought about how I would have thought her old when I was a kid. Because kids do. Grown-up = old. Last night, I thought more that though she walked with the authority of Mom to those kids, to me she looked like a kid. A kid having kids. I must be getting old.