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Summer's just about over, and it's Howard County Fair time again


It's Howard County fair time again, that annual rite that celebrates the fruits (vegetables and livestock, too) of the spring and summer. It is a reminder that the summer is winding down and school is just around the corner.

Many of us tend to look at holidays and other annual events as markers by which we measure the passage of our lives. It gives us a time to look back at time gone by and remember what we were doing at that period in our lives in previous years. Thinking back also tells us how we have changed or how our perspective toward things has changed.

The fair, too, has a milestone aspect, like that of a holiday or birthday. What were we doing last year at this time, the year before, and so on? Also, one views the fair differently as a child, teen-ager, adult, parent or grandparent.

Some things are always the same: The fair is always in the middle of August, on the cusp of the hay fever season, and it invokes almost the same response: Oh, no! Summer's almost gone! It's almost back-to-school time, or I haven't gotten done all those summer projects I planned to do all summer. (Ever notice how kid activity seems to pick up dramatically within two weeks of the opening day of school?)

For some people, the midway is the main attraction at the fair, with the food concessions a close second. Others of a more down-to-earth sort prefer the animals and the other 4-H exhibits. I like everything, and try to see and experience it all. Not all the food or all the rides, however.

As a kid at fairs, I enjoyed the midway as much as I enjoyed the animals. As an adult, I spent most of my time perusing the exhibits, enjoying the food, and maybe watching the rides.

Now, as a parent, I'm enjoying the midway rides again, and I love the all-you-can-ride-for-one-price nights. Last year I was reminded why I gave up riding the Tilt-A-Whirl years ago.

Why is it kids aren't affected by the so-called "spin-and-barf" rides as much as adults are? Maybe it has something to do with the aging of the inner ear, which affects one's equilibrium.

So, we'll hit the fair this week, and visit our favorite food stands. We'll look at the exhibits, ride the rides, and remember last year and the year before.

The fair has been a link with Howard County's rural past, and its agricultural roots when life here was much simpler -- a time when we didn't worry about overdevelopment, inadequate roads, overcrowded schools and urban-type crime.

The agricultural feeling of the fair is still with us in spite of the county's mad rush to build out. To me, going to the Howard County Fair is sort of a renewal and a feeling that the more things change, some institutions remain the same.

If you are new to the county, and have never been to the fair, give it a try -- you'll probably like it. After all, what would August in Howard County be without the fair?

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