Sunday, August 26, 2012

Week 34 of 2012 - Local carnivals and other things they bring to town

Been thinking this week about this topic. In Romeo, our annual trip to the carnival was for the Romeo Peach Festival. The Peach Festival is always on Labor Day weekend. There was a “Peach Parade”, the local orchards all had bushels and bushels of peaches, along with “peach this and peach that” everywhere you looked. It was also the time of the year when the carnival came to town. In the early days of September you would start to see them arrive. Trucks pulling trailers with carnival rides like “the Twister”, Merry-go-round, a Ferris wheel and plenty of carnival games and food stands. They had kiddie rides , a fun house and a ride or two for adults. They would begin by parking in the field where they would setup and after a day or two. Magically the empty field would transform into the playground that every kid in town had dreamed about all summer long. A place which teased everyone senses with bright colorful lights at night, loud bumming music and sounds, and tantalizing aromas that we all can identify. Pop Corn, Lemonade, Corn dogs, Elephant ears, cotton candy and colored ice....all the wonderful flavors which kids and adults alike wait all year to enjoy.......

Pam Sue and Janet - 1958 Peach Festival
I just love this picture! I only have vague memories of this.  Mom rode the merry-go-round with me holding on to me but get a look at Sue!   She has a grin from ear to ear and is holding on for deal life.  Isn't that the greatest,  she looks like she is having the time of her life. 

When I was older, I rode all the rides that they would let me ride. I think that the Twister was my favorite. I remember going on it once with my sisters and I was in the middle. I got squished between them. It all happens so fast there was nothing you could do but laugh and scream! I was a bit apprehensive of the fun house. It was dark and a bit scarey for me when I was young. Everyone walked through it in a line and lights flashed, there were mirrors so you did not know if you were seeing yourself or someone else as the light turned on and off. I seem to remember that at some point the floor moved or the walls shook around you and you thought the floor was moving....The fat and tall mirrors were fun and made you laugh when you realized that you were looking at yourself...and you did know it at first! 

Jan, Matt, Leah, Sharon and Sue watching Mark drive. - Peach Festival 1965
By the time we were teenagers, we had moved to Imlay City and now we had the "big" fairgrounds and the Eastern Michigan State Fair!!! The Carnival would come to town for a week and we hoped we could go more than once. You would save your money all summer and hope that you could go with your friends and ride all the rides all night long. You didn't want to go on Tuesday night (kids night) or Saturday during the day(Kids Day). One night was wrist band night so for one price you could ride the rides as much as you wanted all night long. You wanted to go with your friends when all the action was going on! At night at the Grand Stands, there would be concerts, tractor pulls, demolition derbies and horse racing. You hope that your money held out the whole time you were there. You had to decide whether you wanted to spend your money on food or on rides. I liked the rides the best . When your money started to run out, you could always take a break and hit up the 4H animal barns. I was never in 4 H but I had plenty of friends who were and that is where you would find them during fair week. If it was hot and humid, the barns could be a bit stinky but that was a part of the fun!

Years later, we would own a home right around the corner from the Imlay City Fairgrounds. It was at that time when I decided that carnivals were not so much fun. As a young mother, having loud speaker blare until 11:30 at night which kept my small children awake until nearly midnight was not fun. With my husband working nights at the restaurant during fair week, it also added an element of fear ..not really fear but a sense having to be a bit more cautious that week with all the strangers that the carnival brought to our neighborhood. It was one week out of the year that we made sure we locked out door when we were not home. by this time the fair grounds had begun to charge a parking fee so our driveway became a favorite place for friends and family to park. Some years my yard was a parking lot. It was fun to see everyone! Rick Matthews came every year and took Shawn to the tractor pull, it was the highlight of Shawn's summer.  He adored Rick.

Check it out, here is the link to the Eastern Michigan Fair website:

They have been having it every year since 1883. Sharing great memories that is for sure!

Love, Jan

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