Fair is loads of fun for everyone

County Fair


News staff writer

The windchimes rattled ever so slightly as we made our way through the fairgrounds. A cool breeze whipped across the landscape while scattered raindrops began to obscure my vision through my sunglasses -- which I no longer needed.

"It can't rain now," I thought, "the rides haven't even started."

That was the kid in me talking. After all, every kid knows that the best part about a fair are the rides. But the raindrops didn't seem to spoil anyone's fun on this day -- including my own. Although I chose not to relive any past glories on the Gravitron, the Yo-Yo or the Sizzler, I walked away from the Hood River County Fair with a smile on my face.

Maybe it was little Richard -- not the singer -- playing on the big John Deere tractor. Perhaps it was seeing all the young ladies prepare their horses for the big 4-H competition. It could have been the cow corral where kids took turns parading a stubborn cow around the ring. Or the art and photography exhibits showcasing the bevy of local talent. The entire fair generated a feeling of community unity that I'm just beginning to grasp.

Also impressive was the antique car show -- and I'm not even much of a car guy. It's not every day you get to see a 1931 A-Model Ford, a tricked-out 1968 Camaro with all the trimmings, or a cavernous 1956 Cadillac with enough leg room for the entire Portland Trailblazers roster. The owner's comments said it all: "There's nothin' lackin' when you're Cadillacin'."

Many images stayed with me that day, but most importantly, I was reminded of the excitement of being a kid. Flash back 20 years to my first-ever county fair in Puyallup, Wash.:

I remember begging my mom for two bucks so I could get my face painted by a clown or maybe sneak a snowcone. I remember chomping on a caramel apple as I waited in a seemingly never-ending line for ride tickets. I remember being intrigued by all the enormous farm animals, wondering what they might do if I tried to pet them.

No doubt the Puyallup Fair has quadrupled in size since then, but in the days before Garth Brooks and the Backstreet Boys, the Puyallup had much the same feel as the Hood River County Fair, albeit on a larger scale. And just like the Puyallup was back in the '80s, the Hood River County Fair was a certifiable "Barrel of Fun."

The carnival rides stirred images of my not-so-distant childhood -- a roller coaster plunging into the night sky still conjures up goosebumps, as well as the car ride home.

"Mom, can we come back tomorrow?" I'd ask.

I'm sure more than a few parents had to field that question last week. Leaving was always the hardest part. As a kid, even though you're covered in cotton candy, taffy and dust, the last thing you want is to go home.

"Sorry kids, you'll have to wait till next year."

Just as I'll have to wait for my chance to ride the Gravitron -- if I can muster up the courage. As much as I'm a kid at heart, I'm not sure if my adult stomach can take that kind of punishment.

Sports writer Dave Leder joined the Hood River News in July. This was his first Hood River County Fair.

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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"

Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge

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