I have waited an entire year for this! Julie and I came early to meet friends, Hal and Cyborg Fiscal, whose names have been changed to protect the innocent, and the parking lot is filled to capacity. Why do all these folks in town always arrive before we do? The signs clearly say, "Doors open at 6 p.m." so we are sure to get here by no later than 5:55 p.m.
Anyway, there are families all over the place and are smiling, laughing and having one big time even though the lines stretch out to Highway 67. Why is everyone here? If you didn't guess, it's for the pancakes, sausage and plain old good eating. However, at this great place, it's for the eatin'! No one — and I mean no one — cooks pancakes like the Kiwanians! It's a good thing we did get here rather early because there is always a line. Today was a lucky day for us because the line was fairly short. It stretched from the serving tables down past the exhibition buildings, through the fairgrounds, around the Ferris wheel, close to the animal holding pens and just to the edge of the ticket windows. All in all, it took us about 10 minutes to get our pancakes. The longest wait was standing next to our chosen table to get some folks to eat a little faster. They just had to put one more squirt of syrup, two more pads of butter and lick up every last bite before they would leave. I caught them looking at my plate, so I stared back and politely said, "You want a piece of me?"
A couple of Kiwanians came by — I believe their names were Freud Shiver and Boron Milkstone — and asked if there might be a problem. Julie apologized for some reason and we were escorted to our private table just next to the exit gate. Those Kiwanis folks are so polite and never used their night sticks.
If you had a chance to visit the fair this week, you realize that October is the month where the dreams of little kids come alive, thrill rides will shake the money out of your pockets, deep-fried Twinkies and sugar-sugar funnel cakes will fatten you up, and an almost magical atmosphere of lights and sounds will take you back to the time when you were a child who was sort of afraid and sort of brave all at the same moment.
It was 25 years ago when Julie and I were first introduced to the fair and we brought our grandchildren and a pocket full of cash to make sure they ate until they couldn't hold another bite, rode every ride available to them, left with a prize or two and asking if Grandma and Grandad could bring them back next year. Of course we did!
What makes this fair the greatest show on earth — not taking anything away from Barnum and Bailey — is not just the pancakes, rides, displays, lights and games of chance. The fair is the Kiwanis tradition and the men and women who work so hard to make memories. It is the city of Statesboro and the men and women who patrol the grounds and keep everything safe. It is the people of our city and surrounding communities who realize what we have and respect the tradition.
It is what the Kiwanis Fair gives back to this community! My greatest fear is that the way our world is changing might just take away moments like these and if that happened, what would replace these moments?
I have been accused of being very child-like at times and a tad too obsessed with tradition. I take that as a complement. I suppose I am child-like at times when I see goodness in people, love to see them smile and want to see them play and have fun. I am a traditionalist when I hear of family reunions where there is a lot of reconnecting, eating food that is home-cooked and hugging long-lost relatives who are odd, smell funny and wondering where they came from. I'm sure they wonder if the story is true that I was left on my folk's doorstep by gypsies.
I digress. Kiwanis is traditional in every way. I like that! Statesboro is traditional and I love that, and so is family, church, respect, integrity and neighbor!
I love it all!