My Turn: Fair is bouquet of memories

The News-Tribune website conducted a poll this week asking readers, “What is your favorite part about the fair?” Participants could choose “the food,” “the rides,” “the animal shows,” “the music,” or “I don’t go to the fair.”

Another answer needed to be there. It’s the reason I go to the fair, and why I’ll bet many others do, too: the people.

Betty Williamson

Betty Williamson

Our county fair offers an annual chance to meet new babies, watch teenagers courting, compare rainfalls, speculate about harvests, inquire about extended family members, and — for many of us — to reflect on fairs going back decades, and the scores of good people who helped make them possible.

I won’t be the only one this week remembering the loss, since the last fair, of three men who poured their hearts and souls into this event: Johnny Paiz Jr., longtime auctioneer at the junior livestock sale; Johnny Ogden, a dedicated fair board member whose smile illuminated dozens of fairs; and Dr. Kevin Hertel, our kind-hearted veterinarian who loved his patients and their humans.

There is something about this chunk of land we call the fairgrounds that draws the best kind of people.

And the fair itself? It’s our community reunion, a bouquet of sights, sounds, tastes, smells, laughter and tears wrapped in the crisp tissue of August memories.

Betty Williamson loves kettle corn, and might be willing to share. You may reach her at

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