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Breland: Parish fair returns, in spite of COVID

We really missed it last year, but the very hard work of many volunteers has come together and most everything is about ready to bring to fruition the 2021 Washington Parish Free Fair on Oct. 20.

If you have been reading this column for any of the almost 50 years in the past, you know the Fair is one of my favorite things. I have not decided if I will take the chance of Covid to go this year, but will at the last minute.

Other than the missing 2020, I have never missed but one fair, in 1965 when my son was due any day. Since he was my fourth child, I knew I needed to be where I could get to the hospital quickly. He was born over a week later.

As children, mother would take us to the fair at least one day. If one or more of our friends came by, she might let us go off to ride — if she knew them. She was always concerned — even though things were then pretty safe. She remembered the years she was unable to come to the fair as a child and wanted us to have a good time.

Our teen-aged brother would go down to the highway and “catch” a ride to the fair, while we stayed home. It was okay because people in the community were the most likely to pick him up. We think of our late brother Bill during the Fair, as sometimes it fell on his birthday, Oct. 18. We always told him he got such a big celebration!

When he came home, we were enthralled with his tales of what he had seen and done at the fair. This would whet our appetites to go the next day.

Modern children travel and go to all kinds of places, but then most people didn’t travel a lot. There was also no television to show us any of these things. The fair was our one big event of the year.

After enjoying an entire day, we would gather at about 3 p.m. for the “big acts” on stage, which culminated usually with a high pole or high wire act out in the open. We talked about it for weeks.

One later year I entered one of my girls in the baby contest. She was as pretty and fine a baby as anybody had entered, but was disqualified because she had not had her shots exactly on time. One shot was a little late because she had a cold. I thought it was terribly unfair, but rules were rules and so many babies!

I like to see all the things entered for the Fair. Several times over the years I have made items and entered them in various categories and been either joyful or disappointed at the ribbons I won or didn’t win.

My most memorable experience was the year the late Moggie Bickham and I were the Mystery Persons. We held the same position at our competing newspapers and we had the same birthday — on different years. It was so much fun. Even my children didn’t recognize the crazy woman they saw on stage!

Among other things, I have loved putting paintings in the art show and a couple of years ago, I had the experience of winning the poster contest.

Mile Branch Settlement is my very favorite place to be, and I can almost see my late parents there when I visit. One of my pictures of Heaven in the future will be in a happy place like that when I find my loved ones.

I’ve mentioned a few of my favorite fair things, but there are many more things to see and do. It will be great to see the fair renewed. Just remember to be extra careful and don’t hug too much! Covid is still with us.

As things are changing at the fair, so are the faces of the people who love it. We are all getting older and so many are now missing. Come as long as you can … while you can.

Bob Ann Breland can be reached by email at bobann70@att.net.