County fair celebrates local culture

Clyde Davis

It all began with the turtle — or, more properly, the tortoise, the box tortoise.

Sorry, but before switching to education in college, I was a wildlife biology major. Those little distinctions distract me. It is a tortoise, not a turtle; it is a bison, not a buffalo.

Anyway, the huge tortoise was moving across my front rock garden on a Saturday morning, and I snatched him up and took him to the back yard. The pink sequins still attached to his back announced to the world that this tortoise had once been someone’s pet, and quite possibly a little girl’s.

So, I penned him in the wooden area behind the back door, the one where we can never get anything to grow. My nefarious plan was that we had, indeed, found a tortoise for Mikayla and Jason to race at the Curry County Fair races.

I’d forgotten the incredible ability of box tortoises to dig out from, and escape, places that look airtight. This one was probably spurred on by the realization that he now was captive to yet another little girl, who would probably decorate his back with more pink sequins.

The true thrust of this column, however, is the upcoming county fair.

Tortoise races, art contests, woodworking displays, bakery and canning competitions, and the numerous other events that typify the county fair are all part of what we celebrate — but not really the heart of what we celebrate.

The heart of what we celebrate is We the People. Not in a specifically patriotic sense, fairs being a cross-cultural and cross-centuries human institution. Rather, it has to do with we the common people, we the ordinary folks, coming together.

We celebrate our arts, aka folk arts.

We celebrate our cooking and house, no, home-making skills.

We celebrate our agricultural prowess.

We allow our children to thrill to rides that have seen generations come and go, the merry go round, the Ferris wheel, etc.

Thus it is the fair celebrates, in a different sense, “We the People…”

By the way, if anybody sees a big, brown tortoise with sequins on his back, we had first claim.

Especially if he wins the tortoise races.