Fair memories

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Following a year’s absence because of the dreaded COVID plague, and frankly that is what is has been, the North Carolina State Fair is back. The lights, action, animals and, of course, food are back, a sure sign we are winning the battle against the pandemic. It has brought a lot of memories, smiles and good feelings about an event that is uniquely North Carolina.

I know other states have fairs, and supporters are passionate about their events, but to those of us from central North Carolina the event in west Raleigh is classic. It’s as much a part of the fall season as pumpkins, corn mazes, jumping in leaf piles and the pending and beloved turkey day. Many North Carolinians make the fair a permanent part of their annual calendar.

I’m not sure what the attraction of the fair has always been to me. Part of it is a social aspect, interacting with other fair goers, fair workers and those who have displays has always been enjoyable. Both in high school and college I had good experiences at the fair with friends.

I haven’t decided yet whether I’ll attend this year’s event, but it is not because I don’t like it.

It’s all about perspective. I mean when you’re 12 paying a quarter for a chance to win a huge stuffed prize is fun and exciting. When you’re 40 years older paying $2, yes inflation has hit the fair, to play a game you realize is rigged it is just not the same feelings of pleasure.

As a child you think fried Snicker bars or fried peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are good things. When you’re my age now, you know what that kind of thing can do to your body. As a child your body somehow adjusts. We will just say at 52 it doesn’t.

Even as a daring young person fair rides never excited me. I know they are all inspected repeatedly and daily but I have doubts. Anything that is taken down every week and reassembled somewhere else can’t be entirely safe. Besides, combining fair rides with fair foods can bring about its own dangers and risks.

I’m not sure if I will attend the fair this year. So far, the expense of the fair adventure has overcome my urge for funnel cakes and corn dogs.

I know people are trying to steal my money with milk can jugs with lids barely large enough for the softballs thrown at them. Paying $5 for a giant turkey leg just somehow doesn’t seem worth it for any benefit I receive.

It’s not all about money. Pure exhaustion after daily supervising and educating area middle-schoolers has been a more powerful force than a desire to battle west Raleigh traffic for the fair existence. I know there are at least 4 or 5 miles of walking involved with any fair adventure. When you cross the half-century mark each of those miles becomes more painful, and I just don’t have what it takes to undertake the fair challenge.

Whatever I do this year it won’t change my positive feelings on the annual exhibition of agricultural excellence that we call the state fair.

There are a lot of good memories on those dirt fields in the capital city. I hope many more enjoy similar experiences more than two years after they last had that opportunity.

Tom Woerner is a former reporter with The Daily Record and former editor of the Harnett County News. Reach him at woernertmw@yahoo.com.

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