I’ve been trying to pin it down to just one thing, but I can’t. It’s not that simple, and I don’t think I’d want it to be that simple anyway. I’m slowly realizing that most great things, most great people, and most great moments are made up of many different, wonderful, and unique elements. I like complex order. I like simple chaos. I like hundreds of sounds that make up this wonderfully symphonic experience. I love it.
“It’s 10 o’clock at the Great Geauga County Fair everyone, and here’s what’s happening today.” I hear the announcers voice crackling over the loud speaker, and it seems to be that it’s been the same voice since I was just a small child. That doesn’t seem logical to me as I think about it now, but it sure does sound the same to me. No matter. That clear, crisp sound carries all across the fairgrounds, up and down the midway, and all the way up into Burton. It echoes and carries and it’s one of the first things that I think of when I think of the Great Geauga County Fair.
I realized that the announcers voice is just one piece of the medley of sounds that drift into my ears and make me feel like a boy again. The hundreds of conversations from the people walking in the crowds, the carneys pitching their games, and the sound of sheep baaing all mix together all at once. As I walk through the stables, the familiar thud of the restless horses kicking their stalls makes up the low tones of the music of the fair.
When it’s hot and dusty, there is a golden glow that rises above the midway, down the thoroughfares to the animal barns. The dust and delicious food smells, and the roar of the derby car engines all start to create a wrinkle in time that takes me back to when I was young.
The whole experience of walking around at the fair, seeing friends and family there, and making new friends is something that I will cherish forever. All summer long I would look forward to the fair, save all my money, and work hard with my brothers and sister on our 4H projects, baking entries, and artwork.
Wednesday night we would take my brothers’ goats up to the goat barn, and we would get them all settled in. Then, first thing Thursday, we would rush up to the fine arts buildings to see what we’d won. It was always so exciting to walk through all the barns and see what others had entered. To this day, I am still inspired by the wonderful pieces of artwork that I see there. It’s amazing.
Soon enough, it was afternoon and we would hear the announcer say that there were still derby tickets left, and we would hurry and buy them before they sold out. Wandering up and down the midway, I would find all kinds of delicious goodies to eat. From funnel cakes, to gyros, to French fries and cotton candy, there is never a lack of delicious food at the fair. Anytime I think about the food, my mouth starts to water, and I can taste the food all over again. How do they do that? Everything is so scrumptious.
As the afternoon comes to a close, and the evening starts to bring the sunset and cooler temperatures, I would make my way up to the main grandstand to find a seat for the demo derby. I don’t think there are many things more exciting for a boy than seeing cars smash into each other until they are no longer mobile. The loud engines, the exhaust, smoke and flames, the sparking impacts, and the announcer make that experience an amazing one. Back and forth, through the dirt track, the cars battle it out until, finally, there is winner. The dust and smoke clears, and there on top of his great metal steed stands the winner thrusting his helmet into the air. It’s like a modern jousting match, and it’s one of the most glorious events that I’ve ever watched.
Before I know it, the demo derby is over. It’s 10 p.m. and I make my way out of the grandstand and back up the midway. There are still people walking, but the crowd is a lot younger now. Lines of teenagers walking and talking and laughing together as they eat and play games and wander around. It’s like a great celebration even though its a little sad. Summer is officially over after the fair, and these kids know it. They’ve come to steal away some time, and make a few last memories before school starts and they are back to normal life.
Young romances, silly crushes, and long lasting friendships are found and sustained inside these wonderful fairgrounds. For each of us, a different memory, a new story, a fun experience, but for all of us, the warmth and excitement never seems to wear off. We keep coming back year after year. The tradition grows, we make new friends, find new memories, and discover how magical the Great Geauga County Fair truly is. Walking around the fair this year helped me remember how much I love it here.
What are your favorite memories from the fair? Share your stories in the comments below.