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It is fair time

The fair is here, the fair is here! I love this year’s theme “It’s Your Fair!” That is how I have always felt and now everybody is invited to feel that way too. Local art projects and photographs join the offerings of the best cooks and seamstresses in town. Come on out and see just how talented your friends and neighbors can be.

When I was growing up in Madera a family trip to the fair was an annual tradition. Added chores, returnable soda-pop bottles and selling eggs to the neighbors made for a little extra spending money. My father didn’t believe in allowances. Kids didn’t get a weekly paycheck. If we needed money for something all we had to do was ask. I never did understand why.

Running around the fair with friends or my cousins was my first taste of freedom without direct adult-supervision.

As soon as I got to the fair my first stop would be the Ferris wheel so I could get a bird’s-eye view of what the carnival had to offer. The Old Timers Parade used to be held on Saturday during fair week. Everybody went to the parade first and followed up with the fair.

The first year I worked in the editorial department of The Madera Tribune I went up in the Bungie Jump cage to get aerial photos of the fair. The ride master insisted I put on the harness and the ropes. It was brilliant! Heights don’t frighten me. The parachute drop at Knotts’ Berry Farm is my all-time favorite amusement park ride. You stand in this cage and the ride lifts you up in the air and then you fall back to Earth. They give you two drops. Fred hated this ride and demanded to be let off after the first drop. I flirted with the ride operator and he let me have my husband’s missed drop.

The Madera Fair of my childhood seemed enormous but in all fairness my legs were shorter. I avoided the livestock pens because we had farm animals at home. Bottle-feeding calves twice a day was a regular chore. I learned at an early age not to name our calves because they were going to end up on the dinner table.

My husband Fred raised sheep and sold them at the junior livestock sale. He got his driver’s license at age 14 because of it. Interviewing kids from 4-H and FFA, I learned the DMV no longer issues licenses to those younger than 16 without a court order.

In high school, going to the fair was a perfect date. Guys still work very hard to win their gals the stuffed animals at the games of chance. Throwing darts at balloons fueled my oldest brother Rocky Hill’s love for the game. The epitaph on his headstone reads “Playing at the big dart tournament in the sky.”

My brother Brian was king of the dime-throw. I don’t think my parents ever bought drinking glasses because of it. Through the years we must have had dozens of red and blue glass goblets won at the fair.

I was never very good at any of the games. The only game I ever won was the water-gun, balloon game. The players shoot a stream of water into a clown’s mouth and whoever bursts the balloon first wins. The prizes start small and escalate to the bigger toys. I usually ran out of money before I won anything really good.

Tonight the big star on the Table Mountain/Tecate Light stage is Bret Michaels. The former front man from the band Poison takes the stage at 8 p.m. Festival seating at the concert is free with fair admission.

Come by and say hello at The Madera Tribune booth in Hatfield Hall and learn how to win a chance on a television set. We have a fair special subscription rate and you can sign-up for local home delivery.

Come on out, remember “It’s Your Fair!” Have a great weekend.

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