I have so many memories of the Fair. Some might find that odd, others depressing. Some would even find it stereotypically Southern and quite fitting, but it’s true. Heck, it’s been around since 1931, so I can’t be alone in this. I remember little Dia Clark clogging at the Fair. I remember the Pageant from toddler to Miss. I remember the animals and especially their stench if you went late in the week. I recall the M-60 tanks from the National Guard Armory and my fascination with them being made completely from steel. I remember performing at the Fair when I was older. In black slacks, a tux shirt, complete with cummerbund and bowtie, our Show Choir sang and danced to hits from Broadway and the Silver Screen, which might have been out of place; like Andy Griffith quoting Shakespeare.
I remember one year particularly well. An extra day was tacked on. The Fair began on Monday, after a parade through town, and as the Calhoun Times forecasted, “a bevy of Southern belles and beaus,” were to be found at the Fair grounds throughout the week. It was 23 years ago – 1989. I had finished my sophomore year in college and was home for the summer. The fair had lost some of its luster by then. I was too old to be captivated with throwing baseballs at plates and trying to knock over lead-filled bowling pins. I bumped into India Medders that year, her being home from school as well. I told her I planned to see a movie that night and invited her to go.
We saw Dead Poet’s Society and I recall pretending that my eye was itching when all the boys stood on the desk and proclaimed “O Captain! My Captain!” I was taken by the movie; so much so that I visited a bookstore the following day and bought 100 Greatest Poems ever written, which still sits on my shelf today. Through that book I found the Irishman Yeats. I found Whitman, Barrett Browning, Wordsworth, Tennyson and Dickinson to name but a few. I found poetry that I loved and poetry that vexed me to say the least. But once again my discovery all began at the County Fair.