Back to the start: Couple returns to Fair to celebrate golden anniversary

Jeannette and Allan Richardson first met 52 years ago first met in 1965 at the Sedgwick County Fair. They rode the Ferris wheel together, sparking an instant attraction. They returned to celebrate 50 years of marriage.

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in the July 13 print edition of The Times-Sentinel. To subscribe, call 316-540-0500.

By Sam Jack

With their 50th wedding anniversary approaching, Allan and Jeannette Richardson returned last week to the place where they first met: the Sedgwick County Fair.

The pair met on the Ferris wheel at the 1965 Fair.

“We just got to thinking about our 50th, and I thought, ‘It’d be nice to go back and relive some of the things that we did, that we can relive,” Jeannette said. “This was the first thing on the list.”

Allan was born and raised in Cheney. His parents ran the One Stop Service station on Main Street for more than 50 years.

Jeannette lived in Derby, where the Richardsons currently make their home. She came out to the Fair on a date with Jerry Parks, who was and is a friend of Allan’s.

“He said, ‘I’ve got this girl I want you to see.’ He wanted to show off that he knew this girl,” Allan said.

The three of them ended up sitting together on the Ferris wheel.

“The funny thing about that is that it was a quarter to ride, and he paid her way,” Allan said. “So she wouldn’t sit in the middle, because he paid.”

Despite the physical separation, the pair felt an instant connection, they said. Jeannette was 17 at the time, while Allan was 16.

“As we were riding on the Ferris wheel, he was trying to think of a way to end up with me, and I was trying to come up with a plan to end up with him,” Jeannette said.

Rides on the Tilt-A-Whirl and Salt and Pepper Shakers followed that day. The two dated steadily through the rest of high school.

Their wedding day, Sept. 2, 1967, was the very day of Allan’s 18th birthday.

“We felt like it was right,” Allan said.

After marrying, they made their first home in Cheney. Allan worked at the Dewey IGA and later Cheney Electric, while Jeannette was a beautician and cosmetologist at Clip and Curl.

In 1976, two years after Allan started working for Cessna, they moved to Derby. Allan retired from Cessna in 2010, and Jeannette is also retired. They have two children: son, Jeff Richardson lives in Garden Plain, while daughter Adrienne Terrell lives nearby in Derby. They also have eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

It was meaningful to return to the Fair, after quite a few years hiatus, to see what has changed and what has not in the years since they met, Jeannette said.

“It doesn’t seem like 50 years,” she said. “It just seems like it went by so fast. It went by very fast.”