Fall fairs. These annual events are easily one of my favorite things the world over.
Every year of my childhood, the first gruelling week of back to school was rewarded by the arrival of our county fair. "Just one more sleep", you would sleepily mutter as your eyelids closed that Friday night. Saturday morning, to my memory at least, always dawned sunny and warm but with just enough nip in the air to make the day seem perfectly autumnal.
Piling into the car, the excitement would build, as finally it reached fever pitch when our childish exuberance met the wild and fervid boisterousness of the crowd pushing toward the entrance gates. Just inside we could already make out the flashing strobe lights and fervent movement of the midway. The smell of warm sugar and hot frying oil, would tempt the olfactory senses. The squeals of excitement, the pulsing rhythms, the loudspeakers and the "step-right-up's" of the carnival barkers were a siren song.
Tickets in hand, we would burst through the gate and itemize all the days planned accomplishments. The merry-go-round and ferris wheel were of utmost importance. Cotton candy and caramel apples too, were top priorities. Play the midway and hope to cart home a giant stuffed bear at the end of the day.
Pet the cows, goats, sheep, and pigs in the barns, and admire the blue ribbon winners, not really understanding of course what made two seemingly identical animals more or less ribbon-worthy than the other. Watch the horses trot 'round the track and try to guess who would be the winner. Lick your lips over the prize winning pies and jams and wonder how one day you too, could be lucky enough to earn the job of judge to these decadent creations. Marvel at the enormity of the prize winning pumpkin, so big that it would take three of you to wrap your arms around it.
Mingle with neighbours, exclaim with excitement at seeing school friends.
Buy a balloon, and then cry a little at the end of the day as your little sticky hands, so tired from the day of excitement, forget to grasp tightly to the string, releasing the balloon into the air. The balloon drifts up into the night sky, as the day closes on the best day of the year.