The Neon Ride at the County Fair

Friday night was the night Dan and I had looked forward to for a week. We were going to the Haywood County Fair. Having grown up in Louisiana (where there are no counties, only parishes), I'd never been to a county fair (though we do have the beer-and-rain-soaked Acadian Festival). Having grown up in Ohio, which has huge county fairs with lots of fun rides, Dan was very excited about introducing his lovely bride (moi) to the county fair culture.

I had a music theory lesson at 5:15 Friday afternoon, so we didn't hit the road for the fair until after 7:00 that night. As we neared the fairgrounds, I said to Dan, "Do you really think they'll have rides?"

"Of course they'll have rides! It's a county fair!"

"But ... I don't see any bright lights. I don't see a ferris wheel."

"Wifey, there will definitely be rides."


There were lots of cars. We drove around for a while before finding a pretty good parking space. I was concerned because I still didn't see any sign of rides, but Dan assured me that all county fairs have rides.

"I bet it's just gonna be 4-H and livestock. I bet the highlight of the whole fair is an ugly giant squash."

"Oh, Wifey, it not gonna just be 4-H and livestock and squash!"

We parked and got out of the car. It was a pleasant, clear night, a perfect night for a county fair. I listened optimistically for music in the distance, but there was no music. It was oddly quiet, in fact. Oh sure, there were lots of people, but there was no band playing. No buzzing, mechanical sounds of the rides we'd looked forward to for a week.

Dan and I walked down the "midway," which featured mostly kiddie-games and a couple of hotdog and hamburger stands. I sniffed for funnel-cake smell but was disappointed.

"I wonder where the funnel-cake stand is," I said.

"We'll find it," said Dan. "After we find the rides."

We walked around some more. That's when Dan mentioned that he couldn't hear any rides. I couldn't see the glowing aura that usually surrounds rides. Was it possible that there were really no rides?

"Hubbie, I think that's the 'ride,'" I said, pointing to a tent in which four lackadaisical-looking ponies carried small children in a tight circle.

"Oh, that can't be the only ride."

But it was. And we were both too tall to ride the ponies. The maximum height allowed was something like 4'10".

We were so disappointed, but we were also rather amused at the situation. All that anticipation, and the only ride consisted of sad-looking ponies for small children. No grown-up-sized rides for us, though. We decided to ditch the county fair and head for downtown Waynesville, where there were several bluegrass and jazz bands playing. In only slightly-dampened spirits, we headed back to the car.

"Are you sure you don't want to get something to eat?" he asked as we walked back down the "midway."

"No," I said. I did see a sno-cone stand, but experience has taught me that no sno-cone is worth the money if it doesn't come from a vertically striped little shack in Plaquemine, Louisiana, known as "Zeke's Sno-Cones."

So we resisted the temptation of sno-cones and continued walking. As we passed the 4-H barn and looked inside, my jaw dropped. There, in the center of the barn, was the prize-winning ugly giant squash. Somehow, I just knew it would be there for us ...

When we reached my car, a Dodge Neon, I said, "Well, at least we can ride the Neon."

So that was our county-fair ride for the night. The Neon. It wasn't what we expected, but it got us moving.

By the way, here's a description of the Haywood County Fair from Yahoo! Travel:

This six day county fair offers fun for the whole family including rides (emphasis mine), crafts, entertainment, food, games, livestock, and much more.

Rides? Oh, I guess they meant the ponies. And the Neons. Or whatever car you happened to be driving that night.

Oh well, maybe next year will be better!


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