Column: A lifetime at the county fairIt’s Monday afternoon, and I’m at my desk. I’ve been to the 2010 Dakota County Fair once already, and I’ve got to say - I love this time of year. Sure, it’s a pretty steamy day, and sure, wandering through the heat and humidity already has me feeling like a good nap would hit the spot. And maybe the bellyful of Taco Dick’s and 4H chocolate shake is adding to my fatigue.
By: Michelle Leonard, The Farmington Independent
It’s Monday afternoon, and I’m at my desk. I’ve been to the 2010 Dakota County Fair once already, and I’ve got to say - I love this time of year.
Sure, it’s a pretty steamy day, and sure, wandering through the heat and humidity already has me feeling like a good nap would hit the spot. And maybe the bellyful of Taco Dick’s and 4H chocolate shake is adding to my fatigue.
But I’m a sucker for a fair, no matter what the weather.
I know I’ve said it before, but I’m a fair person. Maybe it’s part of my upbringing. I was born in New Ulm, which is home to the Brown County Fair. My dad, who incidentally can take or leave fairs, used to work a booth out there long ago. My mother is from Owatonna, home of the Steele County Fair, and my grandpa loved to take us kids out there. I’m pretty sure he just wanted to be out there because he loved the fair food.
My aunt and uncle used to take me to the Steele County Fair, too. Once in a while, if my schedule allows for it, I’ll still take a drive down there and go with them. My uncle and I don’t run though the Fun House and make funny faces in the mirrors anymore, but we still like to hang out and watch the free shows when I do get down there.
When I was in grade school, I joined 4-H in Sibley County. Walking around the Dakota County Fair this afternoon, I took a little mental journey back to those days - back to working a latch hook rug for weeks so I could have it ready for the fair, making brownies for my baking entry, even taking pictures for a photography entry. I think I had nine projects I entered one year.
We moved to Hastings in 1979. I’ve wished, more than once since then, that I had joined 4-H up here, too. But I didn’t. I settled for trips to Farmington when my mom had to work the Dakota County booth. And for a long time, that’s all Farmington was to me - the place where the fair is.
Moving here a decade ago changed that, though.
It’s kind of a destiny thing, I think. To work and live in a town where there’s a fair? You would have thought I’d planned such a thing, but it’s just more of a bonus?
And when I say bonus, I mean bonus. I get paid to go to the fair. To wander around and hear stories from the people who make it happen. To watch it go up and to watch it come down. How cool is that?
I went to fairs with my family for years, and once my eldest niece was old enough, I started taking her to the Dakota County Fair, too. Our annual date will be this Sunday.
She’s 11 now, and I’m not really sure how many more years she’ll want to hang out with me, so there is nothing else that’s on the books for Sunday. The past few years, her parents have brought out her brother and sister for a few hours, but most of the day is ours and ours alone. Granted, my stomach seems to like the rides less and less every year - while she wants to go on more and more rides - but we have our ritual activities to plan for, too. We’ve got a tie-breaker game of checkers to play at the General Store at Dakota City, and I’m pretty sure she’s going to want to tackle the really big inflatables set up along Ash Street again. Couldn’t get her off those last year.
I like the motto for the Dakota County Fair: “Where Memories are Made.” That seems pretty accurate. I’ve had a lot of fun there with family and friends over the years, and I’m pretty sure I can count on a few more memories to be made this week, too.
Having gotten my first round of fair food out of the way already, I’m looking forward to munching my way through the rest of the week. I’ll have to try to curb my spending somewhat, though - I’ve got a whole lot more to do and eat once the Minnesota State Fair starts in two weeks.