This is the week of the South Carolina State Fair. As a matter of fact, tomorrow, October 23, 2011, will be the last day. I’ve been scrimping, and saving and seeing which bills I might be able to delay, but all to no avail. For the first time in years, it seems that I will have to miss the fair, and the caramel crunch of a glazed candy apple, due to the more powerful economic crunch.
You see, like many others, I was laid off of my job this year. And while it has had a somewhat negative effect on the necessities of life (rent, car payments, electric, groceries, etc.), it struck me full force this week that the economy has also affected one of the events that I have enjoyed since childhood…the state fair.
The South Carolina State Fair has been around since 1869. You can read about its vibrant history here. I’m sure many of you remember the chilly fall nights, your parents holding your hand, as you made your way through the masses, enthralled by the lights, noises and smells of the state fair. And the food, oh my. It took all of your mother’s persuation to convince you to wait until after you rode the topsy turvy spinning rides to scarf down that humongous hot dog with everything. Many of us learned the hard way that she was right.
As we got older, we relished the first thrills of independence when we could go to the fair with a group of teen-aged friends. No longer holding mommy and daddy’s hand, we ran willy nilly through the fair grounds, ready to brave the rollercoasters now, fingers still sticky from cotton candy, gripping the safety bar in delighted terror.
Then came the dating stage of the fair. After all of your fretting, that special someone finally asked you to the fair. At this stage, you usually went to the fair twice. Once with your friends where you relished the juicy sausage dogs smothered with onions. And once with your beau. Of course on date night you stuck to cotton candy, elephant ears and candy apples. Only sweet smelling foods on this night just in case they decided to steal a quick kiss when you were on top of the world.
The top of the world as seen from the piece de resistance…the ferris wheel. The ferris wheel was best saved for last. After riding all the fast and crazy rides that blew your hair from hither to yon, the ferris wheel was a slow and easy ride that signaled the end of a wonderful date. When your particular car stopped at the very top, you could see for miles around. Amidst the gentle sway of the car, you could see city lights afar and all the tents, rides, and crowds below you that made up the 12-day fantasy land of the fair.
The fair is fantasy-like, but what is real is the expense. Not only do you pay the gate admission, but then you purchase tickets for the rides (the good ones charging four to five tickets) and quite naturally, all that walking around makes you hungry. The tempting hawkers are calling you from every side to try your hand at winning a stuffed teddy bear. So the fair comes with a cost that, in my estimation, is well worth it.
Well worth it, because it has been a part of every stage of my life. This year however, there will be no magic moment atop the ferris wheel for me. I just can’t afford it. What I do have is those beautiful memories. So as I continue to fill out mountains of job applications, these memories spur me on. I’m hoping and praying that I find a job soon because I need to earn a living. I’m on a first name basis with most of my creditors, having called so often to plea for just a little more time. But in the back of my mind is also the thrilling image of next year, gently rocking in the car at the top of the ferris wheel, bills paid, mind at ease, tripping the lights fantastic.