By Doris Schroeder
We are again at the time of the year when the fair takes place. The first time I remember was in 1937. I was a little over four years old and still getting used to being an only child after my older sister Luella had been killed the summer before.
My Aunt Martha, one of the few women who knew how to drive a car in those days, often took mom and me, along with her two children, Della and Lewis, to different places and I looked forward to it.
I was impressed with the magnitude of the grounds. We enjoyed the music of the slightly raucous merry-go-round and even got a ride. I glanced at my cousins to see how they were taking it and they were doing fine so I thought I could, too.
At noon, we all walked back to the car in the big parking lot and ate the
delicious lunch our mothers had packed for us and after resting a few minutes went back to the hustle and bustle of the fair. Later we went into the Grandstand and each got a luscious ice cream cone to help us cool down, no air conditioning in those days!
Later Aunt Martha drove us to our home at 309 West 14th. My cousins and I soon fell asleep after our big day at the fair, dreaming of merry-go-rounds and ice cream cones and merry-go-rounds and clowns.
Three or four years later we lived on my grandparents’ farm on the hill of Sunrise Road. My mom and I wanted to go to the fair again and mom didn’t drive.
Dad worked in Hutch, however, and would leave for work early in the morning.
For spending money, my parents got up earlier and caught some of the old hens, put them in gunny sacks and stopped at Schultz’s Produce in Hutch to sell them. Then Dad dropped us off at the fair grounds and went to work at Sam Schneider Oil Co.
This time my Aunt Olga and her two boys, Dickie and Johnnie, met us at the fair, having caught a ride with her husband. We also made the rounds. I had ridden the ferris wheel in California and felt confident about doing it again. Johnnie was the brave one and found he liked it, too. We then tried to get Dick to ride and finally he, too, became an enthusiast of the ferris wheel. Actually I rode it three times that day.
As the years accumulated, hubby and I enjoyed going to the stock car races and visiting the horse judging for him and the cooking things for me. When we had children we drove them to the fair and picked them up. Later, when we had grand-children, we enjoyed the fair with all our grandsons, when the oldest, John Edward, was little, pushing him around in his stroller.
Specifically because we were grandparents we could even spoil them (a little).
Ryan and Michael helped us with some of the garden so they could take some exhibits to the fair with us. We were all excited when they won a ribbon on their entries.
Of course, as they grew older, we all enjoyed some of the rides for grown-ups. We especially enjoyed the Tilt-A-Whirl and sometimes would take several rides on it if we got a good deal. Ryan always warned me “Don’t act like you’re getting sick, Grandma, or they’ll make us get off!” I did my best…most of the time.
My younger sister Carol ( who went to heaven last September) and I braved a few scary rides a few years ago but we survived. Of course we didn’t admit it to each other except to say “ I was a little scared!
After John and I retired we found enjoyment in entering John’s garden produce and my painted gourds. Through the years I have painted K-State coaches, presidents, and other famous people, painted animals, clowns, Sunrise Country School and many others, and it has been great fun.
This year I am bringing my gourds for Friday entry and they will be An innocent child, a Bee, The Goose who laid the Golden Egg and a sculptured pumpkin and John is bringing some of his great garden specimens. We bring them in on Friday morning and set them up. We’ll come back Friday evening on the tram to the Pride of Kansas Bldg. to see if we won any prizes. Later, we’ll have some of the absolute delicious cherry cobbler in the building and then catch the tram to the gate and the car. That is, after we have listed them. It will be a fun evening.
At any rate, you simply must attend the Kansas State Fair at least once. Whatever you like to see, it will probably be there. If you are there on Friday night, give us a wave and we’ll wave back. We’ll all have a wonderful evening! Isn’t God good to us!
Doris enjoys your stories of the fair at email@example.com