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Margo Oxendine on Fair Game

Summer nights take us back to a world gone away


by Margo Oxendine, Contributing Columnist

August is a great time to enjoy fairs. There’s one to be found most everywhere.

Margo Oxendine

When I was young, Daddy would pile us into the car every August and head to the West Virginia State Fair, near Lewisburg. It was at the time of my sister’s birthday, and it was always one of her treats.

My father was not one for crowds, especially ones with “carnies.” He viewed them all with suspicion. Nonetheless, we’d have a good time because my father did enjoy going on the rides. He was game for anything. My mother, though … I don’t recall riding any ride with her other than the Tilt-a-Whirl.

My favorite thing about the West Virginia State Fair, to this day, is the food. I go just for that. The state cattlemen grill the very best steak sandwich you will find anywhere. And there are those crispy curled potatoes, piled high on a plate. Some club sells homemade doughnuts. Some sell gigantic cinnamon buns, but the line is always too long for me. The strawberry lemonade is the perfect accompaniment to any fair food.

My next favorite activity is visiting the draft horse barn. Gad, but those gentle beasts are huge. I just love to sneak up and nuzzle their muzzles. They are massive and far better groomed than I. The bunny barn and the goats are fun, too. I don’t ever waste time with vegetables.

There is a wonderful little fair coming up in Highland County. I’ll tell you, the folks in Highland know how to put on a fun event. The fair runs Aug. 27 and Aug. 31-Sept. 3 in Monterey, and is worth the trip, like stepping back into better, gentler days.

My favorite thing there is the dog show. It is not Westminster, but it’s probably more fun than that. Folks who love noisy stuff always turn out in droves for the tractor pull, and the demolition derby. I stay away on those nights.

The fair hosts a sheep costume contest, wherein the sheep are costumed, and quite creatively, I must say. Highland supposedly has more sheep than people, so at least several are bound to have some sense of fashion.

There’s a local art and photography show, too, for adults and kids, and it is always delightful. Many people, ladies especially, love the flower displays. It’s even worth it to take a cruise through the vegetable barn. And, the food is pretty yummy, of course.

One year, I found myself judging the “cutest baby contest.” Once was enough for that. I’ve also helped judge the art show. No harried mothers screamed at me when it was over, more than I can say for those cute babies.

If you’re looking for an old-fashioned, really good time, you can do no better than the Highland County Fair. Horses, dogs, cute babies, loud trucks and tractors, souped-up cars banging into each other. What more could you ask?

To order Margo’s book, “A Party of One,” call 540-468-2147 Mon-Wed., 9-5, or email [email protected].