1928 - Alderson High School - 1968



State Fair: 
 An exposition sponsored or sanctioned by a particular State. The fair is usually held once a year and at the same time each year. The fair is used to show off the resources and pride of the State.
Dan Duff

I hear from the folks who still live in West Virginia that the annual State Fair has packed up and closed the gates for another year. I did not attend this year but I can picture the stables and show barns full of animals grown by local farmers. There was buildings full of home grown fruits and vegetables along with the best bakery items and home canning. On Thursday or Friday before fair ended the blue ribbons were awarded and there was a lot of elated winners and a lot of disappointed losers. 

When I was a kid I looked forward to the fair as the yearly must see and must do in August. Every penny that could be begged, borrowed or given as a donation was saved for that annual trek to Fairlea to try to win at least one teddy bear or some other item at the game shows along the midway. Usually it was a three inch cupie doll that was worth about two cents on the open market. The midway was the only attraction that got my attention as a youngster. The rides and games were topped off with portable food venders who filled the midway with the smell of onions and peppers frying on the grill. If that didn’t get to you there were always venders selling sweet treats such as cotton candy, elephant ears or Ben Ellen doughnuts. I think Ben Ellen had secret fans that blew the odor of cinnamon and sugar all over the fairgrounds. To go to the fair and not buy at least one bag of Ben Ellen doughnuts was an unforgivable sin. The look on any youngsters face who did not save enough money from the midway to have some Ben Ellen doughnuts was the most forlorn look a fella could get other than the one he showed after spending all his money on some girl he met up with only to be dumped once his pockets were empty.

 No one went to the barns or stables unless they were apron strung to a parent or adult that just had to go through and look at the livestock. Only when you got much older would you want to spend all that precious time off the midway. The only exception to that rule would be if some classmate or friend was showing something in the exhibit buildings or barns.  

I remember the man who used to set up his booth just off the midway who sold his slicer and dicer. Every day that man must have cut up a bushel of potatoes and tomatoes. People loved to watch him slice and dice. I myself bought one and took it home. The first time I tried to slice potatoes I took the tip of by second finger off. It bled so bad I had to go to the doctors to get it to stop. Needless to say I never used that thing again. Another man sold a gadget that when put it on your carburetor would increase your gas mileage so much it would pay for itself by the end of the second tank full of gas. A gentleman who called the afternoon horse races at the fair bought one of the gadgets and installed it on his car. That evening he filled up his gas tank. The next day he parked his car next to the race track and only a few feet from the booth where the gas gadgets were being hawked. As the hot August sun beat down on the car the gas tank heated, the gas expanded and trickled out the fill spout. Returning to his car after the afternoon races he called the man from the booth over to show him the leaking gasoline. The man was reluctant because he had so many complaints on his gadget, but went over because by this time there were several people who had stopped and was wondering what was going on. The owner of the car took the hawker over to his car and showed him the leaking gas, and exclaimed, “look, that gadget worked so well that it is producing gasoline. Yesterday I only had a quarter of a tank of gas and now it is full.” The hawker walked away scratching his head and the car owner laughed and then quietly told some of the folks who had gathered the real story. 

I remember going to the State Fair some years after I grew up. I will never forget that odd feeling I got while paying the entry fee at the gate. You see as a youngster I did not want to spend my hard earned and gotten money just to enter the grounds. That money could be much better spent on the midway. As a youngster I was always going over the fence or in the trunk of a car to avoid paying all my money just to get into the fair.

Once I even thought about paying the entry fee at the gate, leaving and then sneak in over the fence. My favorite spot was a point on the grounds where two small trees were growing up next to the fence and if you did it just right you could swing across the fence with a minimum amount of barbed wire tears in you levis. Now, at my age, to get in free I have to wait until “senior day” when all you have to show is your AARP card.