As I held tightly to my mother’s right hand, I gripped the striped-red string that held my blue, green and yellow balloon we bought from the bright-colored clown. I knew if I didn’t hold on to both with all my might they might get lost amidst the crowd moving between the fair rides. I never saw so many people bumping into each other in my life. It was wall to wall people.
We waited in line to get a chance to ride the huge, white, wooden roller coaster. Burt Reynolds later blew it up in one of his movies, but today it was one of the biggest rides I had ever seen, and I want to tell you I was a little scared and excited at a chance to ride it.
I was not sure if my stomach would keep down the combination of cotton candy, popcorn and hot dogs that had been the diet I pleaded for from my parents. Only a candied apple remained on my list of items I just had to have.
My mother told me I had to wait.
I watched as Dad pointed the gun at the ducks, knocking duck after duck down. He was a very good shot. Then I watched my mom take a turn, and she out-shot him. My dad helped me hold the gun and use one of his turns. I was so excited when I hit the bell. I am sure my dad played a big part in guiding the aim of my intentions.
We walked away with an arm full of odds and ends as prizes. I am sure they were glad to see us move on to the game where you try to get the rings on the bottles. We did not do as well at that.
There were judgings for pies, preserves and all kinds of foods. We moved from building to building, where farmers young and old brought their best livestock hoping to score a blue or red ribbon.
Throughout our visit to the Southeastern Exposition at the Lakewood Fairgrounds near Atlanta, Ga., I knew one thing — whatever we did, we had to wait. Patience for a four-year-old like me was not something that came easy. I gave it my best shot, but I am sure there was some squirming and squealing involved.
Of all the experiences at my first visit to a fair, it was the bright colors of the rides; the musical sounds and all the people smiling that stick most in my memory.
Over the years as an entertainer, I have been to many fairs, but for some reason in my mind, none of them ever quite measure up to my first one.
Throughout my youth, I was a regular rider of the rides that spin you around faster and faster. I saw a photo circulating of it recently on Facebook. I remember getting on one of those rides 18 times in a row. For some reason in my late teens, my constitution changed. After my date and I got off the short ride on a large ferris wheel, lets say that cotton candy, hot dogs and popcorn I ate when I was four finally caught up with me. Since then, I have not been able to enjoy many rides, but I still enjoy the sights and sounds.
We all now can only dream of the day when we will gather again on the midway or enjoy large events. One day, we will again. Just remember, patience and courtesy will see us through what is ahead. I am sure there will be some things that might not move as fast as people would like but one thing is for sure — there is nothing quite like the thought of a fair to put a smile on your face.