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Eyes on the Prize

May 27, 2012

When I was in school, the county fair was a summer fixture on the family calendar. Sure, my sister and I rode a few rides, and we went to hear the evening music, which in those days (I feel so old using that phrase) were part of your entry fee, unlike today’s overpriced concerts that seem separate from the fair. We even talked my parents into the annual funnel cake–although never tooth-rotting cotton candy and candied apples. But most of the hours we spent at the fair were in the barnlike exhibition buildings. My mom always volunteered to sit in the cavernous spaces, greeting visitors and ensuring the “do not touch” rule was observed. And she–and later my sister and I–always had entries: quilts and crafts, paintings and jewelry, collections and food.

Every summer, my sister and I added more ribbons to mass dangling from bookshelf brackets: blue up front, with red and then white stashed at the back of the line. The occasional rosette-topped special award would be hung separately, collecting dust in a place of honor. I’m not sure where any of those ribbons are now, but I still have–and use–the battered copy of the Ball Blue Book: The Guide to Home Canning and Freezing I won for one year’s entry of preserves.

Opening Day

Peek through an open doorway
The little girl thinks museum
surprised flimsy metal walls
concrete floor and rickety steps
lead to juried collections
If older she would think science lab
neat lines of jars
contents embalmed in colorful liquid
closer to specimens than art

The curator/lab technician turns
Quick; don’t look!
She knows from gray curls
and flowered apron
this woman will call her dearie
take her hand
force a slow, guided tour

Strapped sandals slap concrete
scurry down rows
eager to return to straw-lined pens
fuzzy noses and arched ears
frying dough and sticky fruit
twirling lights and teenage screams
Oh to walk among them
bright strip of color
pinned to green jumper
Red? even blue?
Perhaps topped with a rose
so big Ferris wheel riders could spot it

Slow to search shelves
Small fingers tap small jars
tagged and classified
contents red and purple and peach
then my name
my jam
my prize!
Snatch the blue ribbon
slip through jean-clad legs
unfurl, wave with pride

This poem was written for the dVerse Poets Pub Poetics challenge. The challenge: Write a fun fair poem. Thanks, Claudia!

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Becca permalink
    May 29, 2012 7:57 am

    Clark county fair memories!! Lovely poem Julie!!


  2. May 27, 2012 4:41 pm

    I’ve been to a few fairs like this, where they have pies and cakes and such on display and the best one wins a ribbon or something. We call them fete’s in the UK though. This sounds like fun, especially if you had made some of the things too.
    A fun read too 🙂


  3. May 27, 2012 3:48 pm

    Strapped sandals slap concrete
    had me instantly in the 4H halls, and too longing for fuzzy noses and arched ears. A great juxtaposition of the many sides of the state fair!


  4. May 27, 2012 2:41 pm

    oh very cool…in our fairs over here i never saw something like that, maybe because our fair in town was rather small… what i loved more was the booth with all the different spices..just because of the scents…always kind of adventurous and foreign… great take on the prompt julie and sorry to hear that you had rain weather..


  5. May 27, 2012 2:19 pm

    ha nice…i had forgotten this aspect of the fair…we had a 4H fair every year and they would bring cakes and pies and canned goodies…and livestock to the fair to be judged…pretty cool on your winnings too…i won a pie eating contest one year…smiles.


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