It’s summertime in the Townships and time to get geared up for the Fair.
Prompt: You’re a Winner
Word count: 1,130
The County Fair is a something everyone in a small town looks forward to with excitement from toddlers to the elderly. The sights and sounds, the midway rides, cotton candy, and clowns making animals out of balloons are awesome to the little ones. Teenagers love the adult rides, hanging out with friends, and checking out the guys or girls. There is something for everyone, dancing in the beer tent, tractor pulls, and the horse show. There are barns full of cows, sheep, and other animals to be checked out, handicraft exhibits or just visiting with friends.
Jenny pushed Meredith’s wheelchair through the gate onto the fairgrounds. It was a warm, muggy evening, and they were bringing in their exhibits. Judging would begin the next day. As they headed toward the exposition building, the scent of popcorn, and hamburgers and hot dogs cooking, filled the air. It’s a common aroma found at all county fairs and made their mouths water.
Jenny could feel sweat forming on her brow as she struggled to push Meredith’s chair over the thick cables on the ground that seemed to go in every direction like a giant spider web. Suddenly the wheels hit one of the larger cables causing the chair to tilt forward.
“Hey, are you trying to kill your poor old mum?” Meredith asked.
“Sorry Mum, it’s hard to maneuver here.” She giggled at Meredith, whose hair had frizzed up into curls as it always did when there was a lot of humidity in the air. “And you’re not that old!” Jenny’s warm, brown eyes danced with humour.
“Easy for you to say, you’re still in your forties. Yikes, watch out for that hole.”
They finally made their way into the building. Jenny left Meredith just inside the door while she returned to the car to get the rest of the exhibits that hadn’t fit on Meredith’s lap.
After registering their items, they went to an air-conditioned restaurant for supper. Meredith felt dubious about her entries. She hadn’t got around to finishing a lot of items, and wondered if she would win any first place ribbons this year.
“I always wait too long before I begin my crochet projects.” She said to Jenny across the table.
“I know, eh, I thought I’d never finish knitting that second sock, and I was afraid my garden wasn’t going to grow anything worthy of entering.”
“Did you see some of the entries in the handicraft section? Where do these women find the time to do all this beautiful fancywork? I think I’m going to start on next year’s entries tonight!” Meredith sighed.
“Mum, you say that every year” Jenny chuckled.
“Time to go home and get some rest, tomorrow will be a long day!”
“Ok, I’ll pick you up around 9:00am.”
The next morning when we arrived at the fair, the midway was in full swing, and screams and nervous laughter rang from most of the rides. Today will be a record day for attendance, Meredith thought, and the sun was shining, but the humidity had dropped after a huge thunderstorm during the night. Parents were lined up at the ticket booth, with their children who were eager to go on the rides. Carnival music played as the Merry-go-round horses moved up and down with smiling children upon their backs.
“What do you want to do first, Mum?”
‘That’s an easy question, and I think we need to get some of those hot greasy donuts rolled in powdered sugar.” Meredith smiled. “We’ll need coffee to wash them down!”
We toured the cattle barns first. Herefords, Shorthorns, Angus, and Charolais, all beef cattle, stood swishing their tails to keep the flies away. The bulls were enormous, and Meredith kept pleading with Jenny to stay in the center of the aisle, away from their powerful back legs, all the while moaning quietly to herself. Local farmers and their families sat upon hay bales to rest after doing their morning chores. In the Dairy Cattle barns they admired Holsteins, Ayrshire, and Jersey cattle. Jerseys had always been Meredith’s favourite.
The sheep barn was busy and noisy. Suffolk, Leicester, Cheviots, and Dorsets, were
bleating loudly, competing with the sound of eclectic shears, and excited 4H youth trying to be heard above the din, as they combed the lambs they would be showing in the afternoon.
We moved on to the Horse barn. The horses were being groomed for the big horse show in the arena that night. They stood proudly while their owner carefully braided their tails, weaving colourful ribbons into the braids.
The petting zoo, not just for children, was one of our favorite stops. Miniature pigs, goats, lambs, and other small animals came up to the wire fence, pushing their noses through the holes in the wire for some friendly petting. “Look at this bird, “Meredith laughed,” I think he’s having a bad hair day.”
Jenny’s feet were killing her by then, so we decided to have lunch. There is nothing quite like fair food! We ate at a picnic table in the shade. Succulent hamburgers, onion rings and fries with a cold drink.
“Well, I suppose the judging must be over now.” Jenny ventured. “We may as well go see the outcome of our labour.”
Jenny struggled to get the wheelchair inside the building where throngs of people were crowding the aisles admiring the handicrafts, baking, flowers, and vegetable displays.
As we approached the crochet section, Jenny thumped Meredith on the shoulder. “Mum, you’re a winner!” she said, pointing at the ribbons that decorated Meredith’s items. Two red ribbons, one blue, and three white. Meredith smiled happily. It had been difficult and time-consuming to crochet with her arthritic hands, but the sense of accomplishment was a wonderful feeling.
They moved on to the baking and jams and jellies. Meredith squealed in excitement for ribbons hung above many of Jenny’s entries and further on she could see more ribbons adorning the flowers and vegetables Jenny had entered. “You’re a winner, too. “ Meredith smiled proudly up at her daughter who seemed to be in shock.
They left the building and sat in the shade outside with cold drinks. ‘It was worth all the time and effort we put into it.’ Jenny sighed. “It’s not about winning, although that is fun, but participating helps support the fair and encourage the 4H group. “
Meredith nodded in agreement. “I think next year...” she began.
Jenny cut in laughing, “You’ll start crocheting earlier?”
“No, I think next year I’ll sponsor a category or two.”
Jenny nodded, “That’s something to think about, might be fun!”.
As the electric doors slid open we were hit by a blast of hot muggy air but it is bearable with the promise of a nice cup of peppermint tea.