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The Rocky Ridge fair – Americana at its finest!

Katelyn Phelan
MSM Class of 2011

It’s not every day that you get a glimpse into the "good old days" of American life, but Rocky Ridge was certainly able to pull off the feeling of a close knit community bonding together for an important cause and having an absolute blast while doing it.

I visited the fair on its last evening, Saturday August 20th. The dusky, cool summer night surrounded me as I strolled in the midst of happy fairgoers. With the humidity of earlier summer days nowhere to be found, people relaxed comfortably in shorts, t-shirts, and baseball hats.

Chowing down on my hamburger and iced tea, everyone around me was eating and drinking—cokes, iced teas, water, hamburgers, and hot dogs. And what American gathering would be complete without, yep, you guessed it, apple pie. As people ate some of the best American picnic foods, they soaked in each other’s company.

From every angle I heard happy conversations and laughter. Old couples chatted and caught up while young parents attempted to feed several hungry little mouths at once. No matter where I turned, I saw images of friendship and joy. How often do we make time in our busy days to just put our feet up and laugh with the people who make up the fabric of our lives?

Weaving in and out of those relaxing and eating were those who could not keep still from excitement. Children raced through the picnic tables, dashing in and out of the pavilion’s shade to play tag or vie for a spot in line at the swing set or for the big slide. Parents of the littlest ones ran after their children in vain while other parents just glanced up at their children every few minutes, trusting their neighbors and old friends in the community to help keep an eye out for any trouble. After all, it takes a village, right? And what better village to help raise your kids than one as close-knit and community focused as Rocky Ridge? These kids ran to their hearts content, playing with children who they will probably see regularly for the next 14 years, up through high school.

While some kids expended their seemingly endless energy by running, others watched Doug’s Turtle Races. Where else in the world can you see a bunch of turtles "race" to the edge of their square platform? I was attracted to the stand because of the large crowd gathered around some exhibit yelling their heads off. As I came close I saw the turtles inching along, completely unaffected by and seemingly unaware of the crowd around them!

But kids weren’t the only ones enjoying the exhibits. Around me adults threw darts at balloons in hopes of winning a cheesy fair prize, one option here was an Elvis Presley face mask! People of all ages threw ping pong balls into glass bowls trying to win goldfish or tossed dimes into glass jars. Other people wandered around eating French fries made with peanut oil or clutching half-eaten candy apples. Of course the apple and red candy had left their more than noticeable mark on the face, clothes, and sometimes hair of the eater.

Though the fair radiated with energy and excitement, some folks managed to stay out of the fray and relax on beach chairs while listening to a live band. Bluesy rock music blared from the amplifiers at the base of the stage. Beginning with a cover of the Doobie Brothers the band kept listeners of all ages captivated. A baby, probably around a year old, jammed out to the music, rocking back and forth and stamping her little pink clad feet. Others weren’t quite as stirred by the music to spontaneously break out in dance moves, but rather they showed their appreciation through applause and gentle nods.

The most noticeable thing about the fair was not necessarily any activity in particular, but instead the overwhelming involvement of the community. Though the fair took place every night for an entire week, 1,000-1,500 people were in attendance every night! This shows the genuine care and love that the people have for their community. Case in point: I witnessed one man order just a burger and a water, but give the man at the window a twenty dollar bill because it "was for a good cause," Rocky Ridge’s fire company. Both by his presence and his monetary support, this man showed his appreciation for all the components of the community.

This fair, both from the outpouring of support from its attendees and the atmosphere those who run the fair create, from start to finish, is a true slice of Americana.