Sarah Stultz: Get on out and enjoy the Freeborn Co. Fair

Published 8:45 pm Tuesday, August 1, 2023

Nose for News by Sarah Stultz

When I was a youth, I remember going to the fair in the community I grew up in with some friends.

From my youthful eyes, the fair was massive, with scores of rides and lots of opportunities to have fun.

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I remember waiting in long lines before boarding a ride. Then, once it came time for us to climb aboard the ride, my heart would pound as I waited for the ride to begin. After waiting a few minutes as the ride attendant checked to make sure everything was secure, soon enough my friend and I would be screaming our heads off in a mix of excitement and fear as we were turned every which way at fast speeds.

One ride, in particular — the Zipper — we had a love-hate relationship with. The Zipper, a popular ride at carnivals and fairs all over the country, takes riders high into the air and then flips them around and around while a boom rotates 360 degrees.

I can recall being at the top of the ride with my friend, and my friend was practically in tears as she pleaded to be let off the ride.

Another time, I can vividly recall getting off the ride, where we were tossed to and fro, and then taking two steps, smelling the fair food and then throwing up in the trash can nearby.

I haven’t been able to smell some fair foods the same ever since.

Why did we do that to ourselves?

To our teenage selves, it was a thrill, but ask me to go on a ride like that now, and I’m not sure my stomach could handle it. Of course I learned to never again eat that close to when I planned to get on a ride.

I grew up in a much larger community than Albert Lea, and while I’m sure there were animals there, my fair memories do not include them.

Since I moved to Albert Lea and have attended the Freeborn County Fair, I have been educated more about 4-H, livestock and other parts of the fair that I believe are especially treasured.

It’s inspiring to see how hard the youth have worked raising animals, learning how to show them and working on their other projects.

Fair week is the culmination of all of that effort for them and a time for us who don’t live on a farm day in and day out to see a little more into that lifestyle.

Congratulations to all the youth who are participating in the fair this year.

The fair is also an opportunity to run into friends and neighbors and catch up with those you haven’t seen for a while.

And did I mention the fair food? We all know the fair has some delicious offerings, and as I write this, we’re getting ready to head out for our annual taste-testing at the fair. I can hardly wait.

Hope everyone has a fun and safe fair week, and I’ll see you at the Six Best Days of Summer.

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Wednesday.