Saturday, November 5, 2011

Living at the County Fair

         My father had a regular day job as an accountant, but on some weekends and occasional weekdays we would be out working our juggling act.   His idea of a family summer vacation was to have our agent book a two week tour of Midwestern county fairs.  We made money while having a lot of fun.

         The fair circuit usually consisted of performing as part of a grandstand show during racing events or as a feature attraction a couple times a day.  We'd park our trailer in the middle of the track with the other performers and stay a few days until it was time to move on to the next county fair.

         This was great fun for me in my early teens.  What could be greater than living at a county fair for a few days?  We would only have to perform two or three times a day and only for a few minutes each performance.  The rest of the day we were free to enjoy the fair activities.

          As a courtesy, the carnival would provide the show kids unlimited ride passes.  Talk about being unleashed carte blanche in the candy store.  And though we always took full advantage of our ride privilege, there were so many other things to do.

          One of my absolute favorites was walking through the exhibit halls, especially the commercial and public service exhibits where they would hand out free samples, pamphlets, and other advertising materials.  I could always find one booth that would provide heavy plastic bags printed with advertising.  Then I'd take my bag and fill it up with the freebies they were handing out at the booths.  The take might include pencils, pens, buttons, rulers, and all sorts of printed materials.

           Today--November 5th, the day this post goes on line--I'll be at the BlogWorld Expo at the Los Angeles Convention Center.  This event will be much like going through those county fair exhibit halls.  I don't know what the freebies will be, but I'm sure I should be collecting some interesting literature, seeing some fascinating exhibits, and talking to some friendly people.

            Did you attend county fairs when you were young?    What are some events that you have attended for the purpose of learning or to just look around?






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9 comments:

  1. My friend "the carny".

    In your situation, at that age, I know I would have been spending all of my free time trying (and failing) to pick up girls.

    I can just imagine myself now, following some girls around and trying to think of some clever thing to say when they stop to look at the two-headed calf.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

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  2. What an exciting way to spend your weekends growing up! This is my first visit to Wrote By Rote, and I look forward to coming back. Clever title to add to your list of insightful blogs. Julie

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  3. I loved this post. Makes me think of the annual church carnivals I used to go to when I was a kid.

    Have fun at the Expo. I loved going to writers' conferences and connecting with my fellow authors. This is my first visit here and I'll definitely be returning.

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  4. Great memories!

    My Mom worked as a tour guide at the zoo for a time, and when she would give a tour, my brother and I had free run of the zoo. We were more like animals than the exhibits.

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  5. Gosh, I go away for a few weeks and look what happens - a new blog by one of my favorite bloggers springs up and lo and behold, it's about memoirs, my genre. Lee, I look forward to seeing what happens here and would love to do a guest post at some point, if you'd like.
    Karen

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  6. Yvonne -- Thank you for your visit.

    StMc -- The situation usually wasn't all that conducive to hitting on girls. I'd spend most of my time hanging out with my sister. But on the few occasions when a non-related female happened to be around for a while I tried.

    Julie -- Glad to have you join us here and please do come back.

    Melissa -- I will have to find a writer's conference to attend. I hope you will visit here regularly.

    Kelly -- It's fun when you're a kid and on the inside. I always felt kind of important and privileged when my family worked at some cool event.

    Karen --Of course you're on. I've sent you an email.

    Lee

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  7. Thanks for visiting our blog (a corgi in southern california) and your kind comment. Enjoyed taking a peek at your blogs; wow that you have been unemployed for that period of time, but you are right, it is these economic times. Your review of BlogWorld Expo was interesting to read too!

    Enjoyed this one about your reminiscence of those county fairs. I think it was a definitely win-win situation to spend vacation times like this.

    Growing up we went to the Del Mar Fair a lot; I liked the exhibit halls too and displays of people's art, crafts, and hobbies.

    I hope you have a good weekend!

    betty

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  8. Hi Lee .. great memories - I can imagine being a part of the event makes a huge difference .. and you as the children of the performers would be welcomed just about everywhere and know the other exhibitors etc ..

    We occasionally went to the circus, or to exhibitions in London as the 60s and 70s took hold with all the modern developments being on show. We hardly went to fairs - usually if we were in Cornwall ..

    Cheers Hilary

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