The timing of returning to the Newsroom could not have come at a better time … Fair week!
Admittedly, I was not a big ‘Fair’ kid growing up in the Bay Area. I can recall going on occasion, but would certainly not count it among my childhood memories.
Over the past few years, I’ve come to find a fondness for the Stanislaus County Fair. The fondness has taken time, the right company and a delightful venue sure doesn’t hurt.
As journalists we have just a handful of perks, one which remains intact and I was able to enjoy is Media Day. The event is typically hosted the Thursday prior to fair opening and it never seems to disappoint. As a news staff it also serves as a somewhat unique bonding experience and opportunity to enjoy one another outside of our typical setting.
For the past few years, I’ve also attended a few of the concerts on the Bud Light Free stage. A girlfriend and I began this (now) tradition when the Wiggles visited the fair in 2012. My daughter was 5 at the time and since Michelle happens to be her ‘BFF’ it only seemed fitting that the three of us go. For those who follow this column space, yes ... Michelle is my age. Yes, her children are in Junior High and High School, but she and my daughter are true kindred spirits and therefore lovingly refer to one another as BFF’s.
Much to my surprise, the Wiggles was an amazing good time. Michelle and I enjoyed ourselves so much we decided we would return the following year … ‘for at least one.’
Last year, proving true to our era, we became giddy when we learned of Morris Day and the Time appearing at the venue. This time we would go minus my daughter. Sure, it’s ‘the Fair.’ Granted there are no fancy seats or concert items for sale. There are, however, sprawling green benches and a smorgasbord of bad food, which prompts the taste buds to become overactive. Who can resist Fair Food? Most importantly there is the ‘crowd.’ The energy and spirit of the crowd is what made last year’s concert so fun and memorable. The two of us were joined by another co-worker, as well as Michelle’s two daughters who did the ‘fair thing,’ as we sang along with Morris and the band.
This year, we returned again for Kool and the Gang … minus one daughter, but prepared to see a few familiar faces from the previous year. What I failed to realize as we counted down to ‘the concert’ was that an additional tradition had been established, also known as ‘the rides.’
As the concert ended, we connected with her daughter who was joined by some friends, collected our co-worker and headed to the ride area.
I’m personally not big on Fair rides; I’m perfectly content standing on the sidelines as the human coat rack watching the others as they laugh, giggle and scream. I always seem to manage to do the same ... just from the sidelines. This year was no different.
As the group of us meandered around the ride area, the enthusiasm of the ‘kids’ became contagious. They were so much fun. Abdominal aching belly laughs came as a result of the silliness and shenanigans of the ‘kids’ as they coaxed us to follow along from ride to ride.
Watching the group from the sidelines (adorned with all their things), I could not help but share it all with a friend (via text). The image of me with two handbags draped around my neck, cell phones peeping out from my shorts pockets, sunglasses on my head and kettle corn in my arms. Yep, I was that person. While the friend and I corresponded I felt gratitude for this simple moment.
Here we were, two ‘moms’ having the time of our lives at the County Fair with a group of ‘kids.’ They are good kids … Respectful, responsible, polite, but also incredibly witty, jovial and downright funny.
Once home (in the wee hours of the next morning), I fondly recounted our evening. My abs truly hurt from laughter. As I reflected, I thought how amazing and fortunate it was to have such a healthy rapport with these young people. It’s a fine line when you’re an adult, more specifically a parent.
I love that from my many mentor moms I am not only learning how to walk the fine line, but how to live in it as well. I still remember those periods of time from my own childhood. Hanging out and being silly ‘kids’ with my mom and her friends. They were always so much fun to just be with.
I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge that the Stanislaus County Fair offers much, much more than rides and music. The areas of livestock, train exhibit, horticulture, the list goes on. Those are the areas which now hold the memory-making opps for my children and I.
If I’m lucky, truly lucky and walk this line just right … someday I’ll be making memories like these with them as well.
Until next year… oh, how I wonder who they’ll have next year …
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 847-3021.