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Missouri State Fairs of my youth

Time:2017-08-13 08:50Shoes websites Click:

Missouri state youth Fairs

Missouri State Fairs of my youth

Like most people in Missouri, I have a lot of great memories attached to the Missouri State Fair, and some of mine are sure to pop up every year as the fair begins.

It doesn’t take a lot to bring one of the memories from the fairs of my youth to me either; for instance the last time I was at the Missouri State Fair I saw a group of young boys making their way through the crowds. I did not know any of them, but I did feel a sense of familiarity as I watched them elbowing their way along — 60-plus years ago that could have been me and the McCoy boys.

The McCoy boys and I spent nearly everyday on the fairgrounds during fair week when we were kids, even sleeping there most nights in the horse barns or any soft place we could find. We picked up pop bottles, and beer bottles, which were refundable at the concession stands. We also bagged hot roasted peanuts for the Peanut Man, whose stand always sat on the corner across from the grandstand back then. We could usually find enough odd jobs to earn money for an occasional ride or game, and since our mothers worked at one of the temporary restaurants on the fairgrounds every year, we could always get a sandwich from them when we were hungry.

I learned a lot during those weeks at the fair, unfortunately some were not good lessons. It didn’t take long for my friends and I to figure out working on the carnival grounds was not a good idea for gullible kids. We would go there for the rides and games, but we figured out that money only flowed one way when you went past the carnival gates, so it wasn’t too smart for a kid to work there.

It may be my failing memory, but I don’t recall us kids ever getting in to much trouble at the fair, which could be because like today you couldn’t walk 10 feet without seeing a patrolman. One thing I do remember is how much bigger the fairgrounds seemed when I was a kid. That could be because my legs were a lot shorter then, so it took more steps to get around the grounds.

The boys I saw that day were definitely dressed better than me and the McCoy boys would have been; we would not have been wearing nice tennis shoes, and pressed clothes. We would have in fact been barefoot and most likely shirtless too. We only put on our shirts for our mother’s benefit during fair week, and that was when we went for that sandwich. I should mention our mothers took the opportunity to scrub us down whenever we came around them, too.

Fair week was part of our summer freedom as kids, and we took full advantage of it. We knew as kids know today — when those gates close for the last day of the fair, the doors at school are getting ready to swing open for another year. I didn’t see any barefoot, shirtless boys at the fair that day, just well groomed ones, with wristbands and money in their hands to buy what they wanted.

Like most kids today the ones I saw were rushing around from one experience to the next without taking the time to enjoy the moment. The McCoy boys and I probably enjoyed it more because we had to earn the money before we could take a ride, we therefore had plenty of time for the anticipation of a ride to build up, and isn’t that half the fun? I am not sure if I will make it to the fair this year, but I am enjoying it in my own way as I remember those fairs of my youth.

Missouri State Fairs of my youth

By Jack Miller

Contributing Columnist

Jack Miller is a longtime Sedalia resident and former radio news reporter who shares his memories of Sedalia each week.

Jack Miller is a longtime Sedalia resident and former radio news reporter who shares his memories of Sedalia each week.

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