Change Is Hard

…but change is certain.

Smiling on a hot summer evening


The county fair is back. The fairground is in my tiny town, a little over a mile from the house. When Katie and I camp in the backyard during fair week we can hear the monster trucks, the announcer, the fireworks, the roar of the crowd.

What do you think is the best part about a fair…the food? Or the rides?

The noise doesn’t bother me, it’s only for one week and it’s the epitome of summer in the midwest. I have so many memories of the county fair, not this one, but the one we used to go to when we were kids.

Food? Or rides?

Which pretty much is exactly like the one I wandered this week. Big barns full of rabbits, goats, chickens, cows, and sheep waiting with their young person for their turn in the ring to be judged. Another barn full of sewing, knitting, canning, flower arrangements, and artwork, each a project of some young person, some with ribbons already attached.

Maybe the best thing is the games, though nobody really wins anything. Do they?

I was a 4-H kid in the 60s. I knit, mostly because I hated sewing which seemed to be my other option. Each year I entered a misshappen sweater at the fair. I think sometimes I won a ribbon, but I don’t remember.

The excitment that only the young can experience on these things.

I also don’t remember riding the midway rides, though I’m sure we did. We probably had some number of rides budgeted. We sure didn’t have free reign to ride as many and as often as we wanted.

I bet their hearts were beating fast while they swung in the darkness.

This year I noticed that there were bracelets available that let you into everything at the fair. All the rides, the shows, and who knows what else. They were $25.00 each.

How many funnel cakes can you buy with $25?

I don’t think I’d be able to ride enough to make that purchase worthwhile. Not without throwing up at least once. And there’s no way my folks would have sprung for a wrist band, even if there had been such a thing back then, for all four of us kids.

The Sizzler sizzled into the night.

Nope, I’m sure we could pick out one ride that we wanted to do and that was probably it.

Maybe the best part of a fair is just spending time with your friends.

But I do remember a booth where you could drop paint onto a spinning canvas, then you got to take your creation home. I had that painting for years. That was probably 50 years ago and it’s the most vivid memory I have of the county fair growing up. It still makes me smile.

I think I could ride this one.

We don’t go to the county fair every year these days, even though it is right in our town. And of course last year there was no fair.

Or maybe not.

So it’s been a long time since I’ve gone. But this year it seemed like a celebration of the return of something fundamental, and I looked forward to going back for a walk around.

There’s no calories in cotten candy. Right?

Wednesday evening turned out to be the moment, and I arrived just as the sun was going down on a hot afternoon.

This ride might be safe for me.

Most of the families with little kids looked exhausted. Many of them were leaving, but the young people were just arriving. I was there to mess around with the camera once it got dark and the midway lit up.

At least you could get your vegetables.

It’s not a big fair, it takes only minutes to see everything. But with each round I made I saw different images. I should have had a tripod, but I didn’t want to haul anything extra.

Ride this one before you eat any of the fair food.

All of these shots were handheld, most of the time letting the camera choose the ISO. Sometimes I delibertaly made the exposure longer to blur the lights. That was the most fun, just to see what came through.

Add the moon and it was a pretty special night.

Mostly I was there to have some fun, just like all the rest of the folks standing in lines for rides and food. It’s just my idea of fun involves more about the camera and less hanging upside down from a midway attraction.

Round and around they go.

But if I was 50 years younger I might just have tried those flying swings. I think even my stomach could have handled that.

Best view at the fair.

Author: dawnkinster

I'm a long time banker having worked in banks since the age of 17. I took a break when I turned 50 and went back to school. I graduated right when the economy took a turn for the worst and after a year of library work found myself unemployed. I was lucky that my previous bank employer wanted me back. So here I am again, a long time banker. Change is hard.

40 thoughts on “Smiling on a hot summer evening

  1. I don’t remember going to county fairs. When I was kid, we lived in Saskatchewan, then Montana so I do remember going to rodeos. There was always a midway there too. My parents, like yours, bought tickets so we all could have a ride or two. We probably all got some kind of treat too.

    One of the big county fairs here has announced they’ll be holding a fair this year, maybe I’ll have to go, just for the nostalgia.


    • It might be fun to go, just to do something different. That’s one of the reasons I went, to get out of the house and do something totally different than the stuff we’ve been doing for the past 18 months.


  2. Fresh fried vegetables and oreos, sounds like a heart attack in the making. Seriously though, you ought to approach your county with your pics. They could use these for promos


  3. We have an interstate fair here. I don’t recall ever going to a county fair, though. Several years ago, the Chippendales came to our fair. One of my co-workers and I left work early to catch the show. We have pictures, too! They make me smile.
    Your photos are wonderful, Dawn. I especially like the ‘or maybe not’ photo. Excellent!


  4. I enjoyed the shots. We didn’t go to the fair often – the closest one was a bit of a drive. I did go a few times to different fairs over the years,but… I grew up very close to Cedar Point, so there is no way I would ever set foot on a fairground ride 😉


    • Well, no….if you have Cedar Point right there…. LOL. I LOVE Cedar Point, used to go as a high school student. Once the band went. That was so much fun. Haven’t been in probably 40 years. I have a 70 something friend of mine who goes every summer. She rides everything too. I want to be her when I grow up.


      • My sister (yes, the one named “Dawn”) lives in my old hometown and gets seasons passes to Cedar Point every year. It only takes a few times going to make it pay for itself. I go every6 or 7 years – the last time I was there was 2018. I rode every roller coaster…


  5. I love fairs! I have tix to ours next week, along with a concert there. I’m excited ~ I don’t actually go on rides, but the food, crafts, and people-watching are all super-fun!


  6. Years, many of them, ago rides mattered. Now it’s funnel cake and some of the displays of crafts – but only if it isn’t hot. Yeah, I kinda like sharing some things vicariously now.


  7. never saw fried veggies at a fair – so maybe that is to cater to all the vehgans that are around these days – and that image of the Philly cheesesteak is more my kind of fair food – at our local fair we used to get Italian sausage with onions and peppers

    and so I guess I would say I like the food better than the rides – and never do well on rides so that was an easy choice – glad you enjoy the weeklong fun of the fair in your area


  8. Dawn your images are wonderful! They captured the feel of the fair so well. Love that last one!


  9. Fun! I remember working the Bingo tent with a group of friends at our state fair when I was in high school – it was a blast.


  10. What a step back in time… all of the fairs were cancelled last year. I have memories of taking our kids to the fair here and in wife’s home town. It’s a toss up on what was most fun, but I think riding the Ferris wheel was always a highlight.


    • I love that too. The night I was there there was only one guy working the ferris wheel and he was running back and forth loading and unloading. It took a long time to load up the entire wheel.


  11. Our county fair doesn’t start until next week, but when I was a working journalist, I went every year. So many things to see and do at the fair! I loved looking at the exhibits and the animals, but I didn’t ride the rides or scarf down all those fattening foods. The games were fun, though, and I usually managed to win some plastic doo-dad. Isn’t it wonderful that our fairs are returning after a year away?!


  12. What fun memories and I am so jealous of your county fair, Dawn! 2020’s pandemic canceled all of them and I often wonder how vendors who rely on the fair circuit, survived. I spend my childhood years at the Del Mar fair in San Diego, watching fireworks over July 4th, riding crazy rides and hanging out in the rides area. I also loved the farm animals and shopping halls. The California State fair in Sacramento was huge and lots of fun but my favorite was the small-town county fair in a nearby city where you couldn’t walk 10 feet without running into friends. Thanks for sharing your images and memories, I needed this! Enjoy!


    • I think we went to the Michigan State Fair once, after I was an adult, husband and I. It was down near Detroit. It was very very cool, but sadly, money ran out and we don’t have a state fair any more.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. As a 4 H kid we always went to the fair! I did Photography for a project because taking beef cattle was discouraged by my parents. I love the fair, but for us it has history and many good memories…we like the sights and smells the best:)


  14. Pingback: The Weekly Smile Recap for 7/12 – 7/18/2021 #weeklysmile | Trent's World (the Blog)

  15. A fun post. For me it is definitely the food. I love the crazy creations the venders seem to come up with. More than anything, I love people watching at the country fair. Donna


  16. I never got to go but I remember once getting cotton candy from a small church festival, the minister gave me the money for the treat.


    • I remember loving cotton candy when I was a kid. Didn’t get it very often, I think I’ve had it twice. But today I think I’d spend my money on a funnel cake or elephant ear! Glad you got to experience the church festival.


  17. For me the best part of county fairs is the animals — poultry and livestock. I love strolling through barns full of cattle, horses, sheep, chickens, even pigs. The smell of hay and manure, the farm kids working or lolling around with easy familiarity. I love the food, too. Hardly ever do rides but finally nerved myself up to ride a double Ferris wheel once at the St. Joseph County Fair. Wow! Almost too exciting!

    Your photos of the rides are spectacular, though. That’s how I approached rides — with a camera!


  18. What do you think is the best part about a fair…the food? Or the rides?

    At the risk of sounding cynical my answer is: the best part about a fair is not going to a fair. Your photos are wonderful and make me *almost* want to go to one, but then I remember the noise and the lights and chaos and the dirt which are not my things. 🤷‍♀️

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Bowsers, that looks like a lot of fun. Do they have any squirrel chasing contests?

    Dog Speed,

    Gemini & Normandy


  20. Love the fourth photo down from the top, of the rides with all their shoes showing … you have such a terrific eye for a different and fascinating angle.


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