Go to the fair!

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Before we get to a new conversation let's deal with a glitch in last week's musings. If you read the piece online there was no problem. If you read it in the paper you will know something was missing between the end of the first column and the top of the next. The human who put the block with the photo managed to cover up about 25 words.

The microphones were not in peoples "of words." What was hidden said, "faces and asking intrusive questions."

There I went on, "The announced closing of Kingston Penitentiary brings to mind many stories. You will read or hear about them elsewhere. I like to explore the meaning" of words such as penitentiary. You can if you wish pick up the rest of the piece from here, if you haven't recycled the paper.

Now, to this week's topic.

The Norfolk County Fair opened yesterday, unless some catastrophy happened since Sunday when I wrote this. It runs to October 14.

I hope the mayor and councillors of Tillsonburg read and were guided by the letter to the editor from Bill Pratt about the importance of the local fair.

I was taken by my parents to several fairs, London, Aylmer, Tillsonburg, and other smaller community fairs each fall. When Martha and I had a family of our own we carried on the tradition. The Norfolk County Fair, we knew it as the Simcoe Fair, was a must.

My memories have faded as to specifics. A warm sense of having enjoyed much glows like a sunset in my mind.

One sharp picture oddly has nothing to do with exhibits. It's of a sand flea landing on a picnic table and springing onto my arm to get a warm meal of human blood. Simcoe lies on the Norfolk Sand Plain, natural habitat for these pests. If they snuggled into a fold of your clothing they'd hitch a ride home, take up residence in cracks and crevices and populate your house. This annoyed cats, dogs and humans to no end.

It gave me sadistic pleasure to trap one between thumbnails and splatter its little innards. It took surprising pressure to accomplish this.

Another favourite memory was the visit to the Lutheran Church dinner tent for Mary Kekes's peerless cabbage rolls.

When I opened this topic with two of my sons, this was one of the points where our memories coincided.

Another overlap covered the visit to the building where exotic fowls and rabbits were tended by people vying for prize ribbons.

It was at this fair I first encountered microwave ovens. I never rested until I convinced Martha we must have one.

The boys remember the merry-go-round, Ferris wheel, and more daring rides live vividly. They mentioned ponies, horse races, grandstand shows. Yes, it sort of comes back to me.

Browsing through the brochure that arrived with The News I see that the same sorts of features are offered today as in the last century, new inventions, cooking exhibitions, popular causes. We can find all these things on web browsers but you can't get your hands on physical products or talk with real humans as at the fair.

Neither can you meet old friends and exchange hugs and catch up on events or recall shared memories in the electronic jungle as you can at the fair.

As Bill Pratt stressed, Chris Thomas wrote in the booklet, "Volunteers are the lifeblood of the fair."

Volunteers are local people who know the community and work to fit the events to local interests. They do this without expecting pay. You cannot outsource that sort of expertise.




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