The fair lasted for three days, and people would be getting ready for next year about the time this year was finishing up. They had a prize for everything. You could bring all your livestock to be judged, and your preserves, and pies, and quilts. My mother always won first prize for hooked mats, every single year, but she put in all kinds of other things, too; flowers, and canning, and vegetables. Especially carrots; all her carrots had to be exactly the same size. She’d line them all up on the kitchen table and grumble over them.
People would get excited over the fair like you wouldn’t believe. Even the kids had events, like the three-legged race and the potato-sack, but they had other contests for them, too, like “Best Dog” or “Best Cat” and they’d all bring their pets. It’s a wonder all the animals made it through the weekend.
The older girls would put needle-point in – I won once for a tea cloth. The big stores like Sears and Eaton’s would award trophies and such for the best entries, and one of them sent me a silver platter for that tea cloth – had my name engraved on it and everything – I was right proud of that. I wonder where that is now? I don’t remember….
Me, prodding: Did people sell things, too?
Oh, of course! You could sell anything you’d brought, which was why it was so important to win! The winners sold first, and made more money. But you couldn’t take a thing off those tables until all the entries had been judged, so at the very end of the last day, that’s when things got really crazy. All the people with blue ribbons would be puffed right up to twice their size, holding out for more money than people wanted to pay, and all the “losers” would just be trying to get rid of stuff so they didn’t have to drag it all back home again.
My mother spent the whole week before the fair walking on a razor blade, and us along with her, trying to get everything packed up and making sure not to forget anything important.
She took me to the fair for the first time when I was about a year old. That must have been a mess for her to deal with; all that stuff to organize and pack and making lists, all the while with me hanging off her hip. When we got there, she saw they’d set up a Ferris Wheel. She’d never been on a Ferris Wheel before, and that’s all she could think of, but she couldn’t get herself a ride because she had me with her.
She finally run into someone she knew and asked the lady if she’d watch me while she went on that Ferris Wheel. So whoever this woman was, she took me, anyway, and my mother finally got her ride. She thought that was the cat’s whiskers, being up that high and seeing everybody’s house for miles and miles around. She didn’t want to come down again.
When she did finally get off, she couldn’t find me anywhere, of course. There were crowds and crowds of people, and it was some time, probably a couple of hours, even, before she found the woman that had me. When she got me back, she noticed I had a blue ribbon pinned on my dress.
Wouldn’t you know that lady had entered me into the Most Beautiful Baby contest while my mother was on the Ferris Wheel. And didn’t I win?
Me, smart-ass-like: Did she get any decent bids on you?