Friday, September 22, 2006

Remembering the Mid-South Fair

It's late September here in Memphis, and that always stirs excitement. From the changing weather, and the turning leaves, and just the anticipation of Memphis's Mid-South Fair. I remember when I was in Jr. High School, sometimes my parents would let me take a day off from school so that they could take me to the fair. The rides, the animals, the exhibits, and of course, the food was always something that you looked forward to greatly... it only came 'round once a year, and we had to make it count.

Art was my favorite subject in school, and subsequently my major throughout the rest of my education. Every year, our art class worked extra-hard to prepare our entries into the Mid-South fair's art competition, and we would take a field trip to the fair. One year, they had a Camel ride and I actually rode the camel with my art teacher, Ms. Pegram. She has the photo of that I think-but we laughed and she never forgot that day.

Several of my art works won ribbons, but i'd have to look back and find them to quote placement. So I was always partial to the art exhibit building, which also had many phenomenal crafts and other items. Never missed an exhibit-I would check that out, make sure to go by the agricultural area (being the animal lover I am), and then of course go on the hot pursuit of the fair's delicious food (Fiddlestick's and Pronto Pups were my favorites). We'd play the games, ride as many rides as we could soak in, and I would always be on the hunt for some copper jewelry to buy for my Mother (she'd be mad if I didn't bring her one each year) from some of the jewelry booths around the fairground.

This year may in fact mark the very last year that they will be holding this ever-memorable event. I'm sure there are many others who will give a wistful sigh at the thought of this coming to an end. After all, the Mid-South Fair is celebrating its 150th Anniversary this year.

The Fairgrounds are located right next to "Libertyland", which is an amusement park that has been there for a very long time. Libertyland was the home of Elvis's favorite ride, the "Zippin Pippin", which was one of the oldest rollercoasters around... it was still made of wood and was extremely "rickety", making one feel as if they were taking their life into their own hands if you ventured to ride it... this is, of course as the ride aged... But I remember riding it many times-especially when I was in High School [you know we all felt so invincible in High School, and only wanted any fun we could scoop up].

So as Libertyland closed its doors forever last year (2005), and our City's Fair may be holding it's very last season, it makes me sad. I think of the kids around who won't get to experience a "Fair Day" (some schools even give the kids a day off to go), or people who won't remember "The Zippin Pippin" or "The Revolution" (both great rollercoasters of their day). The boys and girls that won't know what you're talking about if you give a mouth-watering sigh at the thought of a Fiddlestick, or a Pronto Pup. The history that they will miss will be a tragedy.

Blue skies and tall rides, the magnificent aromas that flutter through the air that strike a note of hunger, even in the dead of winter when you pass by some restaurant that is cooking some juicy, bell pepper or onion-smothered dish that takes you instantly back to those little paved streets and smokey alley-ways, where you hear the laughter and see visions of the smiling faces and the wonderful music one might hear from any of the Fair's entertainment stages, and you'll stop and grin wholeheartedly knowing that you were one of the lucky ones that lived and experienced the magical experience of that historic, electric carnival that we call the Mid-South Fair.

Read another great Article about the Mid-South Fair


chelly said...

That's so sad that the Fair will be soon closing. Thanks for sharing your memories with us. It's nice learning about Memphis this way. :)

Do you still do your art work?

Barnze said...

Pork butt on a stick sounds like my kind of snack.

Aunt Jackie said...

I thought you might find that humorous. I would like to laugh, however, since I live in Memphis I can tell you first hand that it's no joke-Pork and/or anything Barbecued is the way of life for alot of folks... how they haven't all had heart-attacks is beyond me :)

It is a very funny sign though--I had to include it.