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Fall means fair

When I was a tad younger, fall in Halifax County meant a busy October, with the fair leading off the month and one of my favorite holidays, Halloween, at month’s end.


It seems county fairs are returning to their agricultural roots.

The 103rd Halifax County Fair is returning to its roots this year, with the addition of a fall hunting expo complete with a variety of hunting vendors.

The livestock barn will be filled with live farm animals, and back again this year will be the Big Buck Contest for gun and bow enthusiasts, along with taxidermy entries.

Homemade canned goods from the farm, honey, fruits, preserves, vegetables and flowers also will be judged, and the Heritage and Antique Machinery Festival plans to have a presence this year.

I read where the Virginia State Fair is returning to its agricultural roots this year with the return of the 4-H Youth Livestock Show.

A jam-packed exhibit hall – get the pun – was the farthest thing from my mind growing up, and my memories start and end with the rides.

Everyone remembers the roundup, tilt-a-whirl, octopus and bullet, but the favorite ride of my long-time, fair-going buddy and myself was the sky-diver, perhaps the tallest ride at the fair.

Our parents had dropped us off at the front gate with enough quarters for at least an hour and a half of fun, and off we went past the carousel, boats and ferris wheel to our favorite destination.

The sky-diver loomed above us, at least six capsules with room for two occupants, complete with a pair of steering wheels.

Keep a firm grip, or the
capsule would rotate 360 degrees, and the excitement didn’t end there.

Midway through the ride, it would stop and reverse itself so you would go backward.

Always an adventurous sort, my buddy would still turn the wheel as we were going backward and upside down, but on one occasion it didn’t pay off — literally.

The sounds of quarters falling through the capsule on the ground below meant his change wasn’t secured, meaning an unplanned rendezvous with his mother for more ride money.

“Didn’t you know,” she told him, “your new jacket has zippered pockets, and you should have put your money in there,” to which my friend could only muster a mumbled, “I didn’t know.”

There must be an ancient Chinese proverb that says, “A boy and his loose change are soon parted,” and I guess that applies in this case.

Still, we came out far better than my next-door neighbor.

When told after school the next day about the fun we had, he immediately shook his head, which usually meant he had to stay with his mom for at least part of his night at the fair, usually in the exhibit hall.


“She stared at a jar of snaps for an hour,” he could only say.