Fair, pig contest, article due this afternoon and need a quick critique. Thanks!
|There are over 3,200 fairs held in North America each year. This year marked 75 years of a Shoals Area tradition. The week-long celebration of the North Alabama State Fair featured arts and crafts, commercial, non-profit and farming exhibitions.
The exhibition halls are filled each year with homemade jams and jellies, cakes and pies, the largest pumpkins, watermelons and various other competitive wares. Different competitions and demonstrations are geared towards advancement of horticulture, agriculture and livestock. Education is placed on activities and competitions for the youth programs.
Some of the various charities over the years that the Board of Directors of the North Alabama State Fair have proudly contributed to include but are not limited to the American Cancer Society, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Camp Smile-A-Mile, Colbert County Rescue Squad, Jr. Achievement of North Central Alabama, the Knights Templar Eye Foundation, Meals on Wheels, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and the Shriner’s Hospitals for Children.
The North Alabama State Fair was only one of the things I loved about growing up in the Shoals area. It was the perfect end to each summer season. There was nothing quite like the aroma of hot dogs, popcorn and caramel apples! The lights, music and activities were all inviting and exciting.
With a hometown feel and a welcoming attitude, you always felt like you were amongst friends even if you didn’t recognize a single smile in the crowd.
We traveled back to Muscle Shoals this year with my 13 yr. old son, Kyle, after mentioning he didn’t remember ever going to the fair when we lived there. Needless to say, I was as excited as he was.
It was a beautiful day, the ground had started drying out after all the rain and the fair was a great place to spend the afternoon.
Upon entering the main gates, we noticed the sign that stated the 2009 Greased Pig Scramble had been rescheduled for that afternoon. We convinced Kyle to sign up. The only requirements were that he had to be a member of the FFA and between the ages of 8 and 13. Once he agreed and the correct papers were filled out, we noted the time and decided to take a leisurely stroll around the midway to enjoy what we could, before returning to the stage area for the competition.
The exhibition halls were a step back in time for me. Memories of my mom’s entries in the arts and crafts competition danced across my mind. Her dolls, with blue ribbons, proclaiming them to be the best, sitting on the table with other hand crafted items made me proud!
At the entrance to one of the halls sat a clown, making balloon animals, hats and smiles for the little ones. The commercial booths offered free items in raffles, marketing merchandise, and information. The Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and local 4-H clubs competed for the best demonstrations in their booths.
We discussed the venue of the previous week that we had missed. They offered something for everyone. Beauty Pageants in different age groups, the “Stars Fall on Alabama” Talent Contest, High School Auxiliary Competitions, the Demolition Derby and so much more had been available to the fair goers.
We ventured over to the Star Family Circus where we watched a contortionist, the motorcycle dare devils, the Space Wheel Walker, the acrobats and performing dogs.
Later on, in the same area we witnessed the pig races. A real crowd pleaser, the audience got to choose who to cheer for. They had the option of pigs by the name of Nancy PORKlosi, Hilary RodHAM Clinton, and even Ba-RACK-a Ribs Obama.
So many memories came back to me as I told my family about the Agriculture & Animal events, the petting zoo, the pony rides and the side shows I loved as a young child.
Two o’clock came all too quick and we joined the rest of the audience on the stands to root for our favorite pig chaser. I turned on my camera to catch as much of the action as I could. Kyle has never even been close enough to smell a pig, much less chase one. I wanted photos of this! I really expected him to back out at the last minute when he realized it might mess up his hair.
“Arab City Junior High School”, he proudly responded when asked over the loud speaker where he was from. The object was to catch the greased pig, pull or carry him to the hay bales in the center and get him up on top of the bales. There were numerous contestants in each heat and only three pigs.
The other age groups had competed and his was the last group. They let the pigs out of the trailer and nudged them to the middle of the arena. We watched as the man raised his arm and yelled “Go!”
There was my son, racing forward, ahead of the rest, completely visible with his blue Arab Knights hat on, tackling the pig, grabbing it by its back legs and hauling it towards the hay bales. He lost his hat in the process, but he did the AJHS FFA proud by being the first in his age group to get a pig on top of the bale of hay.
The final contest of the day consisted of the previous winners of all the age groups. Kyle got set in his ready position and was off again, racing across the mud and greased grass. He quickly tackled the pig, pulled it efficiently to the hay bale and hauled it up on top! Once again, he was victorious and won first place!
I screamed, I yelled and I cheered! I have been proud of his grades, proud of his manners, proud of his personality, but I never ever thought I would be proud of him catching a greasy pig and placing it on a smelly hay bale.
With all the old memories, being able to reminisce and spending time with my family, it was a very eventful day. However, the reason I will always remember the North Alabama State Fair of 2009 will be the new memories created. Kyle won his choice of $100 or the pig he caught. Even though at times I think the pig could have stayed in his room and felt right at home, I am once again proud of him. He chose the money.