Finally, it was here.
Ray, Matt, and I had been planning this trip (for them) for several months and now we were all at the Mooreland Free Fair, trying to capture the sights, sounds, and smells of the fair with our cameras. For five days, we’ve walked among the other fairgoers, the carnies barking at us, “Three balls for a dollar! The more bottles you break, the more the carnies can drink!”—sometimes yelling even louder to be heard over the roar of the truck or tractor pulls only 50 yards away.
The first couple of days were hot, pushing over 90°F during the day, but a few Indiana thunderstorms blew through on Wednesday and Thursday, sending temperatures down into the 50s overnight. Tonight, it’s 65°F and dropping quickly, now that the sun has gone down. For the last few nights, dinner has been Italian sausage and peppers, spiral spuds, stuffed pepperoni breadsticks, buckets of fries, or walking tacos—washing them down with a Coke or a milkshake. Dessert is usually cotton candy or ice cream. After five days of this artery-clogging feast, I’m beginning to think longingly about a salad.
Friday and Saturday are the big days here at the fair. The cooler temperatures, small chance of rain—and of course, the weekend—brought out the big crowds. Many families and kids are here, but lots and lots of teenagers; most bristling with attitude but great subjects for photographs. They range all over the fairgrounds, high-fiving and waving to their friends; sometimes giving each other the finger in an odd, almost affectionate way.
Their parents and grandparents greet each other in less obnoxious ways, but you can tell they’ve been coming here since they were teenagers—even before. One of my neighbors told me he’s been to the Mooreland Fair every one of its 73 years—since he was a year old. I’ve run into several folks I know who’ve been here multiple nights; some who volunteer to work a booth or a food serving line; others who still enjoy simply hanging around with their friends on an August night here in Indiana.
For me, that’s what this fair has always been about. Rural communities like this one rely on these events to help all of us remember that we’re in this together; that we’re a community despite the distances we live from each other, both physically and metaphorically. Most days we’re farmers and computer programmers, conservatives and liberals, rednecks and townies… but tonight?
Tonight, we’re just havin’ a good time together at the fair.