If you find the month of August little more than a hot, boring hunk of time sandwiched between the Fourth of July and Labor Day, you need to spend some time where I live. For those of us here in my little hometown, August is synonymous with the eleven-day extravaganza known as the Missouri State Fair.
I have been to this Fair every year that I can remember. As a little kid I didn't think much past the carnival on the midway, but since then I have grown to appreciate the cultural significance of the much broader fair-going experience. Among other things, I have realized that a ninety-pound watermelon is a thing of beauty and that eating a corn dog is an art to be cultivated.
Over the years I have heard quite an impressive line-up of concert performers, mostly rock and country, who have sung and played in our outdoor grandstand. There are so many I can't remember them all, but at the moment I specifically recall Alabama, Three Dog Night, James Taylor, George Jones, Brooks and Dunn, Sarah Evans, Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, the Oak Ridge Boys, Hank Williams, Jr., and the list goes on.
The arrival of six grandchildren over the past seven years has added a new dimension of Fair enjoyment that looks something like this:
We are minus the two youngest in this particular photo, but here you see Pooh, Sooby, Beenie, Bootsie, and me on a route of exploration soon to include a petting zoo of exotic animals (who will gobble a $5 cup of feed out of our hands) and the amazing, life-size pair of cows sculpted (in the manner of the painting American Gothic) from a huge block of butter and housed in a refrigerated chamber at the Dairy Bar.
You would think I might grow tired of the Fair after sixty or so years of going there every August like clockwork. But, no, it is a much-loved tradition in our town in spite of the crowds and the traffic and the flies it brings in. And with this new generation coming on strong, I don't think the Missouri State Fair is a habit I am in danger of breaking anytime soon.