September every year brought one of our favorite outings. The County Fair came to the Fairground in Jasper. It was about 15 miles away and school children were allowed to go on the school bus. Free tickets were sent to the schools for the children who could get permission to go. The only problem was finding money to take so we could go on the various rides and get cotton candy.
Tents held the exhibits of farm products, needlework, canned goods, livestock, and other items. It cost nothing to go into the tent and view all the blue, red, and white ribbons attached to the winning items. As I became active in 4-H Club, this became a favorite spot at the Fair.
I have gone many times with 25 cents to spend.
The rides cost five cents each. That meant I could have five rides and I shopped carefully and made my choices. The Ferris Wheel was the number one priority. The exhilaration that hit as the descent was made was worth the trip. The horses were pretty tame after riding live ones at home. The music on the Merry-Go-Round was enjoyed even more than the ride. The Roller Coaster was my most frightening ride. It was a good thing I could not afford food to eat because I would have lost it anyway. I almost had to try throwing the ball or pitching a ring. I had a good arm and could usually hit the target.
When I got bigger, I would hire out to pull corn all day to my brother-in-law, Olen Guthrie. I got one dollar for the day and I kept up with him pulling and throwing into the wagon in a center row. My sister must have been sick at the time because she led the way in the field work. She would be the first to hitch up the horse to the plow or to the wagon to do whatever was to do on the farm. I worked two days and went to the fair that year feeling like a rich kid. I ate cotton candy until I was sickish. I rode what I wanted and had money left over.
The sideshows were where I wanted to be, but I had to just imagine what went on inside the tent. They would stand outside and yell and sell their “hype” to the crowds. Girls swaying with scanty clothes brought wolf calls and whistles as the men and older boys clamored for a ticket to get inside. When they returned, they were looking disappointed and I finally realized I was missing nothing. All in all, it was a very welcomed break in the uneventful life of a farm child of the 30’s in rural Alabama.