Good memories of the Fayette County Kiwanis Fair
I understand there were some difficulties with the Fayette County Fair this year. It seems as though the number of rides, publicity, etc., were not met, according to contractual obligations.
The first fair was held about 1962 on the old football field off Stonewall Avenue West and behind the current Board of Education bus barn. It was initiated by 22 Fayette Kiwanians.
Then acreage was purchased in 1964 on Redwine Road and a Quonset hut building was built for a total purchase price of $25,000. The Kiwanis Club had grown by this time, and many of them put a second mortgage on their homes to help raise these funds.
I remember one year when each day of the fair was inundated with a monsoon-type rain. This meant the Kiwanis officers had to dig deep in their own pockets to cover the fee to the fair company and the yearly payment of $4,000 to the bank on the Quonset hut loan.
One year my son, who was probably about 12 years old or so, and I decided to make grape jelly and enter it in the fair.
We lived in a tiny 900 square-foot foot house, with no cupboard shelving. All we had to work on was the top of the washer, and the top of the hot water heater. The heater was a small job and was covered on top with some linoleum.
We had one grape arbor out back, one with Concord grapes. We found a recipe somewhere, boiled some new jars, bought the prescribed ingredients, and cooked said ingredients.
We filled the jars and off we went to the fair. We entered them at the appropriate place in the Quonset hut and crossed our fingers.
Now I must mention here that there was a family in the county who had raised grapes on a number of acres for years and always had winning entries in the fair. I won’t mention their name but they were located on Banks Road.
When the judging was complete, David and I had won first place. I rather imagine that only David and I were pleased about that.
If you were a non-profit you could have a table at the fair inside the Quonset hut. I have sat there for the Chamber of Commerce and the Historical Society. I don’t remember if we got any new members, but it was a thrill to be there and be a part of county history.
One year I went to my car to drive home and my key snapped off halfway in the lock. I had to get someone to drive me home to get the spare set of keys, return and get in the opposite side of the car. I don’t remember how I got the half key out of the lock.
My favorite purchase each year was cotton candy. It just isn’t a fair without this delicacy. And, of course, funnel cakes.
These fairgrounds were sold to the Fayette County and it has become its Recreation Department. One can still stand in this facility though, and remember the sounds and music and excitement of the County Fair.
I grew up in the Firestone Park community of south Akron, Ohio. A circus was held each year just a quarter mile from our home. It would come in on the Firestone Tire company’s train tracks; my dad was an steam engineer there. He would take my sister and me down for the unloading, which would be done by the elephants.
You talk about up close and personal! Shirley and I would be lulled to sleep for a week with the sounds of a good ol’ fashioned circus.
Like all good things, it had to come to an end. Firestone built a plant on these grounds and the circus had to move elsewhere.
[Carolyn Cary is the official Fayette County historian and the editor of the county’s first compiled history, “The History of Fayette County,” published in 1977. She lives in Fayetteville.]