myfiftyplusjourney

Do you have a fair in your town? We do! The county fair comes once a year. The 4-H kids prepare all year with their animals, the carnival rides roll into town the weekend before, big tractors and food trucks show up as well.

Takes me back to my childhood! In Illinois, the fair was one town over, and it was a big deal. I knew less then about 4-H, and more about beauty pageants. Being the Henry County Fair Queen was a BIG DEAL! And if I’m not mistaken, those county queens go on to compete for Miss Illinois. It was a time when we didn’t see our school friends every day, so going to the fair was a great way to catch up and see how everyone’s summer was going. There were no cell phones or apps to know what everyone else was doing all the time, so it was exciting to see everyone!

I didn’t live in Illinois until I was in high school, my family was an Air Force family and we lived most of my childhood between Alaska and California. During the summers my parents would either take us to Illinois to see my extended family or they would send my sister and me to visit. Both of my sets of grandparents lived within 10 miles of each other. My entire family is from this area, some have scattered across the country, but many are still there.

My mom’s parents lived in the country, and my grandmother never drove a car. So when we stayed with them, there were long summer days watching the Cubs on TV (my grandma) and listening to the Cardinals on the radio (my grandpa). Capturing fireflies at dusk and playing endless hours of rummy and crazy-8 card games. It was a time when if boredom set in, you had to find something to do. Saturday’s were exciting because we got to go to town and go to the bank, the post office and the grocery store. During that time all the fire hydrants were painted like little people; policemen, firemen, etc.. so we loved riding around seeing them.

When we stayed at my dad’s parents, we were in town. Walking distance to downtown in a community of about 10,000 people. My Mama and Papa lived right next door to my aunt and uncle and two cousins. My cousins were just old enough to not have a lot in common, but oh did we idolize them! That side of my family is huge, with so many cousins and aunts and uncles, there was always something going on!

But the best of all was going and staying on my aunt (my mom’s sister) and uncle’s farm. They had cows and cats and dogs, they lived across from a farm with a horse barn where they had their horses and they boarded horses. It was a young girls dream come true! I learned thing staying there that have stuck with me for life, including mistakes that a city girl is bound to make. I learned that baling hay is hard and hot and sticky! I learned that the “prettier shade of yellow” bale of hay isn’t actually hay, it’s straw and cows don’t eat that. I learned about dry shampoo (yup, way back then) and sharing one bathroom with 6 others. I learned about cooking huge meals twice a day, doing mountains of dishes, how to light a match (never had) and burn trash in a burn barrel, I learned how to mow a lawn and play cards well past midnight. I learned to shuck corn and snap beans and shell peas.

My aunt recently passed, I hadn’t seen her in a few years. She had lived in Arizona for years, luckily, I happened to be in Illinois while she was there a few years ago, so I had spent time with her. They were No longer on that farm, but she was still my wonderful aunt who loved children and animals and my heart was fuller just spending time with her. I had not thought of those summer days on the farm days in a while, but while at her funeral my long lost friend Brian, (a nephew from my uncles side who spent summers on the farm when I did and became my best friend for several summers) spoke about those summer days on the farm. After we both started high school our lives got hectic in ways that busy teenagers lives do and since we didn’t live in the same town we drifted apart. I haven’t seen him or spoken with him since 1981. But hearing him speak at the funeral brought all those fond memories back, and I’m so pleased I had the opportunity to catch up with him.

These are fair pictures! We have a celebrity harness race here at the Mecosta County Fair and they host an “infield derby party to raise money for charity. What a delightful evening with wonderful friends.

Dress from Maurice’s, shoes from Vionic and this hat was purchased when we lived in the Mojave desert. Believe it or not, in the desert heat, if you can at least find some shade (even a hat) it is 10-15 cooler! So this is the hat I wore at soccer games, while those poor little tykes were out running their heineys off.

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