In August 1969, I was a 10-year-old boy. When the Pickaway County Fair rolled around, Mom drove to the fair and parked in a parking lot across the street from the fairgrounds. Then we walked to the fair, where I had to immediately report for work — a four-hour shift at the Knights of Columbus concession stand. My dad was a member of the Knights of Columbus, and he gladly volunteered us older children — myself and three of my brothers — to sell hamburgers and fries at the annual fundraising event. The food stand was situated at the southwest corner of the coliseum, directly across from the merry-go-round, so the foot traffic was incredible. It also helped that Joe, the volunteer cook, ran Joe’s Frosty Treats in downtown Circleville, Ohio, and everyone knew ol’ Joe could make a tasty burger. We were nonstop busy, but the reward of a free lunch made it worth it.
After my shift ended, I ducked into the coliseum, and for the millionth time, I walked to a certain booth and admired the blue ribbon on my 4-H project. Upon leaving the coliseum, the afternoon was mine to enjoy the midway rides with my friends, although I had to carefully ration my numerous weeks of saved-up allowance.
As suppertime neared, our family met at the Knights of Columbus stand. Since we weren’t working the stand, supper wasn’t free, but my parents were happy to donate to the fundraising efforts, and it didn’t hurt that Joe also made a mean fish sandwich and a gigantic Coney dog that were well worth the price.
After eating, we headed home. Because bedtime was 9 o’clock, we were never allowed to attend evening events like the demolition derby or the tractor pull, but that was OK with us kids. We all went home happy, knowing we would repeat the ritual daily until the fair was over.
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Read more stories of fun fair times in County Fair Memories.