It sneaks up on you most times, and you're hardly expecting it to be that time of year when the Brigden Fair comes around. It's been happening for 162 years and Zoey's been there for two of them. At three and a half years old, that's a better average than Ryan Raburn. She loves it. We love it. It's an easy tradition.
Like a scaled down State Fair, it's been more than a local staple for more than a few local families, and much more than a few tourists, for as long as we can remember. When I was a kid the fair was made of adventure and romance, and fun beyond measure, now it's about watching my daughter burst with excitement and joy. I like to see people that I haven't seen in years, sometimes decades, and I like how everything reminds me of growing up in the country, with horses in our pasture, and endless fields for miles...with neighbors who knew your name even if you didn't know theirs. It reminds me of my Grandmother...little Gramma Fufu...and my Grandfather...Pink Floyd, and it reassures me that no matter how much my life has changed, and how remote those days seem, we have foundations that make us who we are.
I grew up on a dirt road near the river, next to a tile factory surrounded by corn and tomatoes...with a pasture full of boarded Standard bred horses, and the occasional calf. I played in my grandparents barn, and went for wagon rides behind heavy horses that seemed like ancient giants. My Uncle staked his livelihood on the fortunes of a single Champion Quarter Horse named Eternal Sun, and his daughter, Colleen, rode that same horse's bloodline into a quiet family pride in fairs and exhibitions just like this one. The first money I ever earned was from mucking out stalls, and filling the water troughs of horses that we were forbidden to ride, but did. The endless fields and farms that surrounded my childhood were a playground unrivaled, and laid a foundation of daydreaming and adventure that would last a lifetime. Sure, we once packed up our lives and moved to Brooklyn, New York, and Manhattan was where we were married, but at one time such things were impossible daydreams...small county fairs were the height of romance and adventure for me for big chunks of my life. Make no mistake, I live a life a long way away from the farms and fields of my youth, but at one time it was what defined me.
These days the Fair is less about adventure and more about nostalgia, but I'm always aware that my daughter might see it differently, and by the look in her eyes all weekend long, I'd say those wide eyes look awfully familiar.