The other day while searching for something, I opened a bag full of things I had picked up years ago at a fair. I had put it aside to look through later.

That got me to thinking about the many fairs, craft shows and events planned so people can show off their wares, giving the public the chance to see what is available, new items and ways to make our life better.

These annual events are put together by hard-working volunteers, staff members and individuals with the desire to let us learn what they have to offer.

They use clever ways to attract the attention of women, men, seniors, parents and children, also crafters, cooks, decoraters and lawn and garden lovers -- this list could go on and on. I'm always surprised what the next booth has to show me.

These gatherings draw me like a magnet. I'm given a handy bag, and as I make the rounds I pick up pamphlets, brochures, brightly colored flyers, trinkets, pens and pencils. I sign my name for a drawing, taste samples, maybe even spin the wheel or try out the right color ball to win a prize.

I end up taking a bag full of stuff home, many times just setting it aside to look at later.

The bag I found recently at home had dried out pens, stale mints and magnets that didn't make it to my refrigerator door, notepads, outdated information, leaflets and trinkets I really have little use for.

Maybe my grandkids would enjoy looking through my treasure sacks someday. They were stored in the closet -- out of sight, out of mind.

The last fair I attended, I won a prize. I won a calendar. Honestly, I thought I sure don't need another calendar, a third of the year has already past. But I looked through it and found it was full of great information for a woman on her own. Each month addressed a different topic or do-it-yourself projects, such as how to organize the clutter, save money, do spring cleaning and home decorating. I think you get the idea. It was from a booth offering home parties that have tools designed for women. They were even pink in color.

Something I overheard while there reminded me I always had to ask which way do I turn the screwdriver or turn the nut on the bolt, but if you say "righty tighty, lefty loosey," you'll have no problem.

Here's more interesting information I collected: We all know duct tape is known for its many uses, and I bet you have heard all the great things vinegar, salt and soda can do. Well, I ran across another item you probably have in your home.

Did you know WD-40 does more than just lubricate the squeaky door on the car? Here are a few of the many suggested uses: cleans the spotty shower door or stove top, even gets oil spots off concrete driveways; it protects silver from tarnishing and gives floors the "just waxed" sheen without making them slippery. Oh, yes, it even keeps flies off cows, removes lipstick stains and loosens stubborn zippers.

Uh-oh, I think I got off the subject. Back to fairs. These events just don't happen. There is a lot of planning, hours, days, weeks -- in fact, if it is an annual show, the planning begins the day after the present one is finished.

Those of us who come to enjoy these special days might forget just how much work was put into the display; setting it up is the final step. Creating a clever way to attract our attention, ordering supplies and samples and training those working the booth all have to be taken care of ahead of time.

I really appreciate these great events. I have learned three things:

* I should bring my walker with a seat.

* Bring along some name labels to use instead of signing drawing tickets.

* I must go through my bag of goodies right away, and not set it aside.

There will be more fairs, shows and celebrations coming up. Maybe I'll see you there, bag in hand.

Opal Flinn, Ellis, is a member of the Generations Advisory Group.