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All is grand at the fair

by Colleen Acker, BeWell Activities Program Manager

What comes to mind when you think of the county fair? Do you imagine swirling rides, loud pulsating music, cows mooing, the sound of horse hooves, screams of excitement, and the smell of fried foods? Maybe there was a special someone you used to ride the Ferris Wheel with? I used to love the rides, but now it’s more the atmosphere that entertains me. 

For about 10 years, I worked at the Barry County Fair selling tickets at the grandstand. Ticket sellers were driven to the booths by golf cart and greeted with long lines of people waiting to buy tickets. It was kind of like being a rockstar. We even had the protection of the sheriff’s posse! The tools of our trade included the correct color of ticket for the evening’s event, a cheat sheet with calculated prices for different numbers of tickets, and a cash box.   

I loved the challenge of a long line to see how efficiently I could work through it and send each person off with a “Thank you and enjoy!” or “You’re welcome, have fun!” I chuckled over all the sweaty 4H kids who would come with moist wadded up money and coins to pay for their grandstand tickets. Yes, the money was often damp. I don’t contemplate why. I was impressed with the manners of these kids, who spoke directly to me, said please and thank you, and were generally pleasant. There were people who complained about the price, but I never had serious issues with anyone. I also enjoyed seeing family and friends out for some family fun.  

When I was done with my shift selling tickets, I would leave my little shed and step out into the hustle of the midway. The air felt so good after being in the small, stuffy box. With anticipation, I would begin searching for concession stands with the word FRIES painted in bold letters. It is tradition to end my stint as a grandstand worker by celebrating with hot fries covered in salt and apple cider vinegar. Dusty, sweaty, and happy with my midway treat, I made my way through the exhibits, headed home.  

County fairs are a fantastic way to socialize, beef up your step count, or boost your community connection through volunteering. CareWell Services will be visiting many this summer! Come see us at the Barry County Fair Senior Day on July 16, seniors pay only $2.00, and the Calhoun County Fair Senior Day on August 14, all seniors get in for free!

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