Celebrate community at local fairs, festivals
Posted 26 August 2014 12:00 AM by Cindy Earehart Rinker
The first thing you notice when you enter any fair is the smell.
But the smells that open your eyes and tickle your stomach emanate from the main strip where all kinds of food are just waiting to be tasted. Chicken halves sizzle on long grills and pots of beans and corn simmer, waiting to be scooped up. There are hot dogs and hamburgers with all the fixings. Good, country food that always seems to taste better al fresco.
Then there is “fair food.” The fried things and food on a stick – things you would never eat in polite company. Deep fried Oreos, large pretzels dipped in cheese, hand-cut French fries in paper cups, pork rinds fresh from the kettle, cotton candy, corn dogs and the perennial favorite – that plate of fried dough drenched in cinnamon and sugar - the funnel cake.
Carnival games and rides charm the kiddies and teen-agers, while the Bingo tents draw in the seniors. At the Shenandoah County Fair, which is in full swing this week, there is a row of benches behind the grandstand where people sit and just watch fair-goers as they trek through the dirt from livestock barn to exhibit buildings.
The Shenandoah County Fair has been around for 97 years. That’s 97 years of canned pickles and apple pies with blue ribbons. It’s nearly a century of the community coming together to celebrate what is great about living the rural life.
So celebrate the end of summer at your local fair. Russell County Fair is going on now in Castlewood, Va. The Treasure Mountain Festival in Franklin, WV, takes place in mid-September and so does the Nicholas County Potato Festival in Summersville, WV.
The Autumn Glory Festival in Oakland, Md., is a grand event with a parade that goes on for miles. It takes place along Main Street in Oakland starting Oct. 8 and The Taste of Brunswick celebrates the tradition of Brunswick stew in Alberta, Va., on Oct. 11.
If you like adventure with your funnel cake, you might want to attend Bridge Day in Camden on Gauley, WV, on Oct. 18. The bridge over the New River Gorge is closed for the festival which features BASE jumpers catapulting over the bridge 800 feet down into the river below. You can watch participants leap from the bridge or you can take a bus down the mountain to the river and watch the jumpers from below. It’s one festival you don’t want to miss.
A helpful link to find festivals near you is http://festivalnet.com/indexes.html . Set aside some time this summer and fall to celebrate in your community or get a taste of another area. Funnel cakes await!
Cindy Earehart Rinker, formerly a weekly newspaper editor, currently is a marketing supervisor at Shentel.