Fun times at the county fair

Jam of the Week: “All In” by Flying Lotus

Whether in Hamilton County or back home in Illinois, I always get excited for the county fair. The sights, the smells, the excitement always get me.

The fair in McLean county was always a big deal. For a while when I was still in grade school, I was more excited to hop on some rides like the pirate ship ride. My friend Brian and I would get day passes for the rides and spend entirely too long getting on that ship ride, getting off and circling the queue to get back on. We thought we were daredevils hopping on the end of one side of the ship, which rocked the highest in the air.

There were many other rides at the fair. We dared each other to move around as much as possible on a spinning UFO ride, walked through a miniature haunted house like we owned the place, and tried to get each other sick on one of those tea cup rides where you can manually spin the cup. I don’t think either of us actually got sick, but I remember coming close once after eating a large serving of Dippin’ Dots.

As I aged, I became more interested in the 4-H contests at the fair. Before, I had made some dioramas with a barely passable effort. Eventually, I found myself making entries for rocketry, photography, cooking which I found more success in. One of my photography projects actually ended up as a reserve champion for the state fair.

I miss having that chance to participate in the fair. Of course, I still could bring in open class entries, and have a job where I get to spend a lot of time in the fair. But, there was always something nice about taking the time to work on a project during the summer.

I enjoyed being able to try out, and then try to perfect, new things. I also enjoyed sharing some of those passions with others. I launched more model rockets than I can remember with Brian. One time, we asked my sister to volunteer a passenger for one of our rockets. She gave us a tattered barbie doll and we hastily strapped it to a completed rocket. Being a fairly small rocket, it only made it a few feet off the ground before crashing and catching fire. We’ll never forget the service that Barbie gave to the neighborhood space program.

Going to the fair as an adult, I appreciate that young people will have the chance to have a similar great experience. While we’re not short on large events this summer, I also appreciate the fair as a venue for people across and beyond Hamilton County to meet and have fun. Hopefully, I’ll see you out there this week.