|Super Star, Freak Out and KMG Booster, night 02 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Last Saturday we spend the afternoon at the Monmouth County Fair in Freehold, New Jersey. This was a relatively small fair by comparison to the fairs I grew up around. For the most part it seemed to be composed of 4-H exhibits, food vendors, and a moderate sized carnival. The grounds seemed well-attended though not uncomfortably crowded, probably because we were there somewhat early and I would assume the crowd became larger at night when the carnival ride lights would offer a more festive and colorful atmosphere and the weather was cooler.
My earliest fair memories go back to 1955 when my parents worked on the girlie show of the Goodings Amusements at fairs in Knoxville, Tennessee and Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia. My father took a few weeks summer vacation in order to work these engagements. I was four at the time and remember very little of their stint as carnies. However the experience instilled in me a longing for the carny life.
In the early 60's my family would spend a good bit of time at the San Diego County Fair in Del Mar, California. My parents would either be working their juggling act or my sister would be performing with the troupe from the dance school where she took lessons. I was along for the ride mostly, but I benefited in being able to see the fair for more time than I might normally have in just a day's visit. That fair in San Diego was a real beauty with an outstanding grounds that had permanent structures of class quality which was a far cry from what I'd see later at the more traditional fairs in the Midwest.
This time in the mid-60's of playing dates at fairs in Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and elsewhere is where my mind reverts to the most. The sights, sounds, and smells of the county fair are revived when I go to a fair these days. Whether a big state fair or a small county fair, my memories take me back as my mind is flooded with the sensations of those years.
As I think about it even now I realize that there is so much to write about that it can barely be touched upon in a single blog post. The New Jersey fair that I attended last weekend was fun for my grandkids and an enjoyable little outing for me. We only stayed a few hours and left as the sun was heading toward the horizon, but still a couple hours from setting completely.
All of those fair memories amount to another idea for a memoir that can be written one day. Not right now while I'm on vacation, but I think I need to get this writing started. After all, as The Band sang on their album Cahoots, "Life is a carnival" and as the carnival that sets up for a brief few days when fair time comes, tear down will come before we realize it and the carnival moves on.