A reuinion of sorts, this county fair is different

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 4, 1999

Pink feathers, my first taste of mini donuts, a carnival ride that almost made me sick ? that sums up my first memorable county fair experience.

Wednesday, August 04, 1999

Pink feathers, my first taste of mini donuts, a carnival ride that almost made me sick – that sums up my first memorable county fair experience.

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I was about 12 when I went to the St. Louis County Fair in Proctor, Minn. with my mother, sisters, and a family friend who brought her two daughters along as well.

My twin sister and I braved the Rock ‘n’ Roll ride because the older girls were going on it. I guess we wanted to run with the big kids.

It was probably a big mistake.

With Bon Jovi or some other totally ’80s rock band blaring, my twin, Sharla, and I were tossed around, side to side and upside down.


It was my first experience being thrown upside down at high speeds and I was extremely worried that it would cause my lunch to revisit.

The older girls disembarked with huge smiles, squealing and giggling with post traumatic ride delight.

I had the post traumatic ride nausea. But getting sick would be so uncool. So I got off the ride, weaving and stumbling like a drunk toward my mother who also made the mistake of going on the ride. We sat in the beer tent for a while, sucking down some 7 Up to calm our upset tummies.

St. Louis County Fair was not only the scene for my first scary ride, but my debut at carnival games as well.

Wearing feathers in braids or pony tails was the latest trend, and since I was heading into junior high, I had to have some. Pink feathers, I needed them.

I don’t remember what game I played, or how much money I blew (it wasn’t mine to keep track of anyhow. Parents are great), but I know I walked away that day with a set of pink and white feathers.

Of course the clips were not at all comfortable. I don’t know how people expected to wear them, with clips that resembled a crocodile’s jaw of long rows of sharp teeth. They pulled at my hair and hurt my ear lobes.

So after realizing that I would never be the trendy little punk preteen with the pink feathers in my hair, my hard-earned prize became a cat toy.

The last county fair I attended was in Barnum, the Carlton County Fair. I remember only being very bored, and trying to escape my parents. As a teen-ager, being seen with parents was uncool.

I also tried my hand at carnival games again. The prize wasn’t as memorable as pink feathers. I believe I might have earned a stuffed banana with sticker eyes for shooting a couple baskets.

Although I walked away from each of those county fairs with some sort of prize, I didn’t come away with any real memories. I probably wouldn’t have even thought of those pink feathers if I hadn’t seen some at a vendor’s booth Tuesday.

I don’t know if it was something with those particular fairs or maybe because county fairs have never been important to my family. But there seems to be something about the Freeborn County Fair that is sets it apart.

It seems the Freeborn County Fair isn’t just a fair. It’s a family reunion of sorts.

Families reunite from all corners of the country, brought together by this fair.

Other families have gone to the fair for generations, passing the tradition on to their children and grandchildren.

So I’m looking forward to this week, being part of this huge family called Freeborn County.

I might even buy those feathers I saw. I’m sure my cat would love a new toy.

Now that scary rides don’t bother me, maybe I’ll take a chance at getting thrown around, though I doubt they have the Rock ‘n’ Roll ride. And I certainly hope they don’t play Bon Jovi.

When my parents visit this weekend, I doubt I will try to escape them at this fair. I don’t mind being seen with them, because now I think they’re pretty cool.

Although I’ll go home with my pink feathers and maybe even a bag or two of those yummy mini donuts, mostly, from this fair, I hope to take home some memories.