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Time for another piece of paradise

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By Molly Haines

It’s almost fair time again in Owen County, which likely means the coming week will bring back many fond memories for me.
Throughout my entire life, my dad has owned and operated his own business. While most people are beginning to wind down from a day of work at 5 p.m., sometimes it seemed like dad would just be gearing up for work. During the summer months it was come home, gobble down supper and head straight to the tobacco field or garden.
Until I got older, I never thought much about this preventing my family from going on vacations or even weekend trips. I knew that for one evening in July, my vacation would finally come.
The county fair, regardless of how silly it seems, was my little piece of paradise. I can remember pulling up to the gates, seeing the bright, flashing lights from the rides that seemed to tower over me, and anticipation that grew so high I could hardly sit still a minute longer.
First thing’s first — the hand stamp. Always in blue or red ink, a stamp that read “ADMIT,” was my ticket to ride the carousel as many times as I wanted.
The carousel always came first. I would hop on the prettiest horse I could find — usually white with a pink and baby blue saddle — and wait for the ride operator to buckle me in. Dad would find a seat on one of the carousel benches and as we would pass each other on opposite sides of the ride, with a grin plastered across my face, I would wave to him as hard as I could.
The duck pond was another thrill for me. For a 6-year-old, there’s just something about getting to stick your hand down in ice cold water in the steaming July heat that can’t be beat. Forget the fact that I rarely pulled out a prize-winning plastic duck, this was my Coney Island and I was going to enjoy every last second of it.
We would play as many games as possible, whipping out one-dollar bills here and there for a chance to pop balloons and win a stuffed Scooby Doo doll or cheap jacks set.
The funnel cakes were another big treat, one that typically only came once a year, making it seem that much better.
Come the first of August, it was a running joke around my house that on the first day of school when the kids asked us what we did over the summer, we would tell them we went to the big county fair.
For a little girl that didn’t know any better, those few hours spent wandering around the fair grounds was the best get-away anyone could ask for. Even these days, when I’m sent to Owen County’s fair to work, it doesn’t seem much like work — but instead a vacation from the every day lull.
If you get the chance, I’d encourage everyone to take a trip out to the Owen County Fairgrounds. There’s always a little something for everyone and family fun night can’t be beat. Who knows, you might even make a few memories that will stick with you for the rest of your life.
•••••
The News-Herald’s editor, John Whitlock, recently won an award in a Landmark Community Newspapers Incorporated editorial contest. John picked up first place in column writing for a weekly paper.
The LCNI editorial contest receives entries from many of its papers, which are spread throughout the United States.
If you see John out and about, be sure to stop and congratulate him on a job well done.