Our annual trip to work at the Kansas State Fair 4-H Encampment building as dorm supervisors has come and gone. Our two weeks away from home were restful. No phone calls, no mail, nothing to worry about -- only the 7 a.m. check-in time. We relieved the couple that works from 1 a.m. to 7 a.m. each day the dorm was open. Our shift was over at 1 p.m., and the rest of the day we could do as we pleased. Now that's a schedule that can't be beat.
When we came to Hutchinson we parked our RV, filled with fresh water, plugged into electricity, lowered the leveling jacks, and then pushed the button to put the "slide-outs" out. Nothing happened. Oh oh, now what?
We read the instruction book, which told us to find the breaker switch. We searched, our son and son-in-law searched, couldn't locate a breaker switch. Of course it was a holiday, so Camperland wasn't open to ask for help. Doesn't it seem problems always happen on weekends or holidays?
We spent two nights in cramped quarters, but Tuesday when Harper Camperland pulled onto the fairgrounds with their exhibit, we asked for help. In nothing flat, they had it working. Just shows you that what you know is important. From now on, we'll know where to flip the switch.
We picked up a copy of the Hutchinson News on Monday and read a interesting community columnist story written by Tom Arnhold. Arnhold was a 4-Her in Ellis County years ago when our kids were 4-Her's too.
Arnhold's article told how he felt about the state fair, what it used to be like and how it has changed. We could relate to his memories of side shows, burlesque shows and what we called "freak shows." These attractions are no longer there.
The fun rides, the free entertainment and fantastic exhibits are still there. We remember the way it was and have watched it change in the 44 years we've worked there. One change we really enjoy is the paved walkways, especially when the rain came this year. Fairgoers were looking for umbrellas and jackets. The rain and cooler temperatures really put a damper on things.
To pick a favorite exhibit. I'll say the duct-tape prom dress that took the top purple ribbon in the duct-tape class of 120 entries was most interesting to me.
Jim's favorite thing to do was to ride the free trolly that takes you around the entire fair grounds in 20 minutes or so. He is amazed how the view changes each time -- different people doing different things and a whole new group of riders.
We spent time just people-watching. We started counting things on wheels. It is absolutely amazing the numbers of baby carriages for one or two youngsters ranging from simple and small to large and extravagant.
In fact, we visited with a young couple who had a Jeep stroller. It had large wheels, one in front and two in back with mud tread tires and reflectors on them, wired for music and a clear plastic rain cover for the entire stroller. It was made for a mom who runs for exercise and takes her baby along.
Can you imagine? I don't remember even hanging a stroller when we raised our family.
Also, there were wheelchairs and a lot of motorized chairs for seniors (We think we'll rent a couple of those next year) that can be rented on fairgrounds. There were parents pulling little red wagons loaded down with children and stuff and golf carts. John Deere gators were used by the highway patrol, fair board and maintenance workers.
More wheels included the motorcycle parade. It was loud, impressive and fun to watch. Of course, there is the Ferris wheel, people traveling in RVs, exhibits brought in stock trailers and farm equipment on display. There were wheels taller than we are to small but efficient wheels on the luggage brought into the dorm. We need to be thankful and appreciate the things we take for granted and use everyday, especially the wheel.
Now, we are back with memories of another state fair, happy to have had time to visit with friends we've made during the years and looking forward to state fair 2009. Mark your calendar. Yhe fair always starts the Friday following Labor Day.
Jim and Opal Flinn, Ellis, are members of the Generations Advisory Group.