Random Thoughts: Memories await at county fairs


By Travis Mounts, managing editor

You’ll have to forgive me if I sound like a Southern belle while at the Sedgwick County Fair, but given the weather forecast for this week, I don’t think there is any way around it.
“I do declare (pronounced DEE-CLAIRE with the softest of R’s), if it were any hotter, my bits and parts would be running like a water hose left on.”
I don’t really know what Southern belles say. I’m not southern, and I’m no belle.
I did spend a summer working and living in Texarkana, which is the South but not really Southern belle territory. I worked for a bit with a guy named Jimbo, and one of his top phrases was “Boy, I heard that,” which was uttered after every third thing he heard. He also had a completely filthy phrase about how it was too hot to do certain things.
One time I uttered the second phrase to him, which elicited a laugh and a “Boy, I heard that,” which felt like some kind of accomplishment.
As I write this on Tuesday afternoon, it is 104 degrees outside with a heat index of 107. I have not been outside since about 9:30 a.m., with a goal to stay inside until around sunset. The air conditioning in the office is working fine, and I have the ceiling fan pushing air down and a personal fan on the ground pushing air up.
It feels great inside, and I’m enjoying it as much as possible because I know how much time I will spend outside covering the Sedgwick County Fair during the last half of the week. We will repeat the effort in a few weeks when the Sumner County Fair rolls around.
Anyway, if you see me lying under a tree, I’m probably alright. If I’m lying in a walkway, go ahead and call 911 before you even check on me.
Fainting couches should be mandatory at these summertime events.
I plan to escape a lot for breaks in air conditioning. I’m going to be drinking water like it is going out of style, which sadly, it seems like it might be in many parts of the western United States. That’s another story for another day, and could be the future for half of Kansas, too.
There will be plenty of fun this week. There are plenty of favorite foods and new options to enjoy. Events like the demolition derby and the ranch rodeo get your adrenaline going and are fun to photograph.
The live music provides a nice respite. The temperature may not cool down much, but the shade and a cold drink at least helps while sitting down for a spell. (“A spell” – that’s almost Southern).
Visiting with people, taking pictures of 4-Hers doing their thing, little kids having fun, and finding stories for the next edition of the paper and the upcoming Fair results special section – those are the parts of being a community journalist that are fun and challenging, and are the fabric that makes up the tapestry of our work lives.
I do miss the fun of having my kids at the Fair. They grew up with the Sedgwick County Fair, entered the open class competitions and won a few ribbons, and always enjoyed the carnival, food and animals. I’m fortunate that they still enjoy doing things with their old man. The outings may have changed a bit – we’re just as likely to visit a winery or go to a drinking establishment, and our choices of restaurants have changed a lot – but the time together is still special.
And in the end, that’s the best part about our county fairs. It’s time together – with family, with friends we see frequently, and with people who we might only see once a year at the Fair – that really makes the memories we cherish.