Farewell to the Fair

It was apropos that on the final night of the fair, these two young cowboys were silhouetted in the setting sun, watching the fair pass by the final time as dusk came upon the fairgrounds. The title of this picture by Mark DeLap is entitled, “Watching Her Set.” Turn to the column IN THE WIND to find a recap of the fair.

Another fair week has come and gone, and this year’s fair was unlike any that had come previously and will most likely stand as one of the best weeks on record. Perhaps it was because it was done in the midst of worldwide pandemic and in the face of a world that wants us to live in fear.

Some said that with the thousands at the fair, our hospitals would be like ground zero within a few days. Well. It’s been almost two weeks and of the 5,000 cases we were supposed to see, there was no COVID.

I don’t think the dealers of doom anticipated that we could have that much fun in such confined spaces and come out unscathed. I am officially getting down off my soapbox now.

I have been to county fairs before, but I know that in my half a century of fair going, there were some things I had NEVER seen.

I saw a Ninja Warrior Course put together by Pastor Jeremy and Lori Haroldson and their incredible team at IMPACT Ministries. I not only saw it, but witnessed it being put up in one day and taken down in one day.

They also managed to bring in a national celebrity in Daniel Gil who is on NBCs American Ninja Warrior. His name at the fair was Kingdom Ninja and for all intents and purposes the Ninja T-shirts were the most seen T-shirts at the fair.

Daniel and his wife, Abby came to Wheatland, stayed for the show, ministered to the kids and didn’t duck into a trailer after a performance. He was not only visible, but also approachable.

I saw a pig in the livestock show sit on command. No, I’ve not been reading too much Charlotte’s Web. An actual HUGE pig was told to sit by his teenage trainer. He sat, he was awarded a pig biscuit and then he was sold for a huge amount of money.

I witnessed the sale of a belt buckle for $1600. There were no diamonds or emeralds or jewels, but the all-important Platte County Fair 2020 was on the plate and had I had the money, I would have outbid the guy. Yeah. The fair was that great and well worth remembering.

We witnessed killer bands and a special park that was built by the Lions Club just for the kids. Aptly named, “The Lions Den.”

There was a Wild Goose Chase that was run Saturday morning and there was not a more perfect day for a 5K race. I was the oldest runner, but did not finish last.  In fact, I won! Well… Any time I run a race and I don’t have paramedics waiting for me at the finish line, then yeah… I win.

The parade was magnificent and there were more people in Wheatland Saturday than I’d ever seen before. It was amazing.

The coup de gras, though had to be the massive crowd that gathered for the mutton bustin’ and the pig wrestling. There were literally so many people in the grandstands that I couldn’t capture it all with my camera.

When I sent the pictures to friends in Iowa, Chicago and Los Angeles, they asked if it was a rock concert.

When I told them it was the crowd that had come to watch people wallow in mud wrestling pigs, they just simply had a hard time believing it. And they didn’t wrestle for 15 or 20 minutes, but I think that every person in town was somehow connected to that event, either with actual wrestling, betting on a team or family come to view the spectacle.

And I came away with a sense of great pride that I was part of this community. At every event, the national anthem was sung – every hat came off, hands were on the hearts and there was not ONE person kneeling.  I was so glad to be a part of a community that not only stood for patriotism, but knew what it meant.

And with the quarantines of COVID, the entire nation covering their faces and looking like a third-world depressed nation, it was refreshing to see so many smiles. To hear so much laughter. And to be thankful that I found a place that cared so much, one for another.

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