I took a few hours this morning to go with my parents to the Washington Parish Fair, purportedly the largest free county/parish fair in the country and the second-oldest fair in the state.
A Creek Runs Through It
My dad is proud of this fair. When my kids were young, we spent the bulk of our time on the carnival rides. Today, however, my folks and I spent the morning winding through the craft booths, the blue ribbon displays, the 4-H barn, and the Mile Branch Settlement, a pioneer village, with authentic cabins and structures, and “pioneers” in period dress.
One of the best decisions the organizers ever made was to put the carnival rides on the other side of the creek.
Dad’s not opposed to carnival rides, but he’s proud that, at this fair, they are secondary to the “main” part of the fair. The creek that separates the two parts, he believes, has helped keep the emphasis on the slice of Americana displays and competitions.
I had forgotten that most fairs were primarily capstones for those who worked the land and livestock. These days, “Let’s go to the fair” is more likely to excite images of ferris wheels and ball and bucket toss, not historical displays, the steer a teenager raised, or jars of canned goods draped in blue, red, and white ribbons.
This fair is primarily organized, operated, and imagined by people from the parish and nearby communities, not by “outside,” disconnected businesses that drop in to make a buck. That is special.
©Copyright Pennie Nichols. All Rights Reserved, 2017.