Thursday, August 25, 2011

East Coast Boy & the Fairfax Fair

This past weekend was the Fairfax Fair. We’ve all been to small town fairs; you know the drill – face-painting, cotton candy, games, baked goods, baby show, queen contest, parade. But the Fairfax Fair is special – partly because Fairfax (pop. 645) is one of those ‘small but mighty’ little towns that just knows how to come together to make things happen, whether it’s a new hospital, an overhauled sidewalk in front of the library, or the annual fair, held in the beautiful city park.

The Fairfax Fair is also special, personally, because it’s one of the events I associate most with growing up in Atchison County. My sister will tell you that my ‘memories’ of childhood cannot really be trusted (apparently many of my recollections aren’t actually…real), but I do remember a few things specifically. For example, I broke my arm when I fell of the slide there the year I was 7 (ask my mean mom about how she basically told me to suck it up and sent me to school the next Monday, only to have the school nurse tell her it was broken. Mean, I tell you…). Dad participated in the program portion of the weekend several times, as a part of the Law & Order Gospel Quartet (yes, that’s right – a Sheriff, a Judge, a School Principle and a High School Counselor) or as a solo act. And we always loved seeing Uncle Roger & Aunt Ann, practically living in the same food booth every year, and the rest of the Martin family that always seemed to be there.

And then there is my favorite memory (which actually happened, I have pictures) – ten years ago this Fairfax Fair weekend was the first time I brought my would-be hubby to Atchison County.

Saying that Keith and I grew up differently is like saying Bill Gates is comfortable, financially. Inner city Irish Catholic East Coast mouse meets rural Midwestern Baptist country mouse. And yet, I didn’t hesitate to bring him home with me. It didn’t occur to me that he might judge this place I hold so dear. After all, I love this place – why wouldn’t everyone else?!

And the great thing about that particular trip home was that he got a glimpse of so many reasons why I love this place, all at once. I asked him this weekend what he remembered about his first Fairfax Fair. He said he saw good folks enjoying a tradition, community pride, American pie & Ford pickups in the heartland of America, close-knit community and kids everywhere, everybody doing what they could to be involved. Pretty cool review by a boy from Boston, eh?

I wonder what Keith’s 2001 self would have said if someone told him that not only was this his first of dozens of trips to Atchison County, but that one day he would be married in a big red and white church here, with his Boston-Maine family in attendance, or that several years after that, he would be living in this county, in a big old farm house with corn and bean fields as his next-door neighbors. I think he might have laughed and said, “Yeah, right. But, I do like this girl, and life has lead me all over the country on random adventures, so who knows what might happen.”

And you know what? He STILL likes me. And my home county, too!


  1. Where did the decade go? Love the post and the pics.