Fairs, Festivals, and Back to School
There are some people who seem to attend every festival around. They can’t wait for fair time to roll around and more often than not it becomes the thrill of their summer. Some plan their annual vacation for fair week, while many more camp out and make lifetime memories which carry over for generations.
On Friday, while visiting the fair, several camping neighbors were seen cooking out on the grill, playing horseshoes and corn hole and enjoying cold beverages, not allowed on the fair grounds. It sure looked as though the fair was taking a back step to the campground until our journey took us to the food booths and carnival area.
Kids were seen enjoying the play area with the ever popular inflatables, while the traditional rides like the ferris wheel, merry-go-round and others occupied their time. Our time was spent wandering around the festival grounds and taking in all the sights of different adult contests like hay bale throwing, hog calling and pageants. The smell of grilled burgers and chicken, ribs, sausage, popcorn and cotton candy filled the air. Excitement was stirring in people, as the tractor pulls and mud bogs were underway. Memories of local fairs are some of the best and most colorful memories of the summer and childhood. Fairs are everywhere! From fun times at inner city parks to small time county fairs where most have learned the importance of staying off the Tilt-A-Whirl after filling up on hot dogs and other fair foods.
Wetzel and Tyler Counties have a long history of providing enjoyable ventures for the young and old. The Tyler County Fair, Town and Country Days, Paden City Labor Day Celebration, Oil and Gas Festival, July Fourth events and Fireworks, the New Martinsville Regatta and so many more have been around for so long that most cannot remember when they began.
At one time, Paden City Park on the South end of town was an amusement park of it’s own. The old carousel is now supposedly still in use at Kennywood Park in Pittsburgh. Many will remember the yearly traveling carnival Thomas Joyland that set up in Brooklyn. It was one of a kind, if you wanted to enjoy a real old time carnival, one of the last of its kind, New Martinsville was the place to be.
Things we saw in those days would shock some people today. Many of them were X-rated. From the frog eater, sword swallower, human pin cushion, fire eater, to the tent closed to those under 18; those were the days.
At the Paden City Labor Day celebration, you could expect large crowds from far and near as the event took over most of the high school grounds and included a top performance from the Flying Wallendas, the 75 year old lady who jumped from a tower into a flaming barrel of water, to the cannon which shot a human half way across the football field into a net. It was truly something to see!
Who can remember playing the ball roll at the age of 10-15? The only place around where you could gamble legally as a minor were the carnivals. Summer was never dull; one week there would be carnivals and the next week were the huge tent revivals. Both provided good entertainment and drew large crowds. Sometimes the local watering holes would close early so the men could take in a sermon.
Local fairs and festivals are an important part of a community. Residents come together to celebrate while welcoming visitors from near and far. It’s the epitome of summertime in America.
Hopefully, with a little imagination, this will be the summer to remember for kids and adults as 2021 does its best to replace the fun missed last year due to COVID.