Wyoming State Fair’s Living Legacy

 

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Wyoming State Fair series Part III

For some reason my competitive spirit didn’t die when I aged out of 4-H. I still enter knitted and crocheted work in the open class needlework department. It seems to call my name annually. Some years I scour our back yard for horticulture entries too. It’s fun to look through exhibits for a ribbon, but I consider my entries an act of good citizenship. I’m giving fair goers something to look at – right? Maybe one of these years I will reach my grand goal of entering the fair theme cookie jar contest with the required six varieties of cookies in it. I’m sure I could come up with some delectable edibles.

This year I was flabbergasted to find an unexpected giant red and blue rosette ribbon in my winnings. I had entered an afghan crocheted for my son, a wool blend zip-up sweater I just love, and at the last minute grabbed an eclipse pillow I’d sewn. I actually made eleven of them for my kids, parents, and siblings as Christmas gifts. One can never capture the spectacular Total Solar Eclipse of 2017 adequately in words, photos, or in my case fabric, but I was able to use quilt strips in the colors of the 360 degree sunset, add a star strewn sky fabric, and sparkly ribbons as the eclipse with a facetted button for the diamond ring effect. That is their memento since I never got around to buying eclipse t-shirts.

When I told the fair lady that someone’s big ribbon had gotten in the wrong pile, my pile, she was sure it was correct and went to her list to prove it. Whoa! I’d won the people’s choice award for home decorations. Wasn’t that quite a howdy-do? The people who voted for it didn’t inspect the strips to see they weren’t quite matched exactly, as the judges pointed out on my comments with a 3rd place ribbon. It doesn’t matter. I already knew that, and no one has returned their eclipse pillow gifts for a better one, so I guess I’m ok.

I’ll now share a few more of my musings from the 100th Wyoming State Fair a few years ago.

It seems that when I think of the fair, my own childhood memories rise first, but I do have a pretty ghastly memory from a time I was in Douglas picking up our girls from their yearly pilgrimage to help Grampa Duane at Jackalope Catering. By the way, have I mentioned that Jackalope Catering has the most amazing smoked ribs, corn on the cob, cabbage roll dinners, and cheeseburgers smothered in grilled onions to die for?

The excitement off the carnival, or the kids, or the combination, temporarily caused me to lose my senses. My enthusiastic daughters, having discovered the neighbor boys were also there, begged for us all to ride the Octopus. Against my best judgement, knowing I tend toward motion sickness, I found myself in a bucket with twelve year old Todd from across the street. After the carnie started the ride, he left his post for who knows where, leaving us to get our money’s worth I guess. I knew right away I was doomed. The ride twirled and swirled high and low while our bucket spun uncontrollably in the glittering night sky. I got sicker and sicker, greener and greener. In fact, I’m sure I would rather have gone through childbirth again, rather than sit in that bucket trying not to throw up on poor Todd. We kept dipping and passing the empty operator station over and over and over. Just before I thought I would have to crawl over the edge and jump out, the ride stopped. It was barely in time for me to keep my self-respect. It took every fiber of my being to wobble away without urping. Then I had to load up children and drive forty-five miles home. Oh my, it was months before I could even get in my car without feeling woozy.

Putting the past aside, my night at the 100th Wyoming State Fair was really quite magical, just as I knew it would be. What a grand family tradition. From our perch on that hillside, Tom and I watched dedicated 4-H and FFA youth from around our great state. Buddying with friends, they headed toward barns to bed their livestock for the night. Those young people probably don’t realize they really are the future of Wyoming; pioneers in their own sense. State Fair is more than a good time. It is a leadership training ground. It is a yearly gathering place for family and friends. It is a feeling of goodness, peace, and fun. My heart bursts with the joy of having experienced this place for most of my life, and being blessed to share it with my children and someday their children … hint, hint, hint. I always love being a Wyoming Native, but at State Fair, for those few sweet hours, that feeling completely fills my being.

Thanks for reading this series. I hope you’ll come on out to the fair next year!

Please join me for future blogs on such random topics as hollyhocks, knitting disasters, harvest time, and anything else that may come to mind.

 

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