Michael Rustad's Memories

 

Kittson County Fair

I looked forward to the the Kittson County Fair each summer.I enjoyed the rides as well as the carnival. My brother Tony and I collectedpop bottles to save for the Fair. We would frequently have 4H exhibits atthe Fair. I remember once we were on a Tilt-a-Whirl (or similar ride) andTony got sick on the ride. The operator of the ride was a crude man witha number of tattoos including something like "Born Loser." Inany case, he would not let us leave until we cleaned up the ride. SinceTony was in no condition to help, it was left up to me. As farm boys, wewere somewhat intimidated by the carnival workers. It was quite common forthe carnival games to be rigged. I think that we would lose only a $1 orso on these games but they were cheap tuition. I think that the Fair illustratedthe seedy side of society as well as the best.

The Fair was like the Tale of Two Cities: the best of timesand the worst of times. One of the worst moments was experienced by my Mother.In an essay she wrote for the Scribe Tribe (a Kittson County writing Club)she recounted how she placed her glasses case dutifully beside the hole.The case was cylinder shape and began rolling toward the hole because apparentlythe toilet was not level. In her haste to grab it, the glasp came open.Her glasses and keys went down the the dark smelly abyss. She was embarrassedbut decided to take action. She found the Fair Manager and asked him fora flashlight and a shovel. The Manager asked her what she wanted them for.She was stopped numerous times by friends asking what she was doing withthe shovel and flashlight. She dragged the odorous privy for a long timewithout success. For years after the episode, she was asked about how shegot home without her glasses and car keys. For my Mother, this was the worstof times.

The Fair was also the best of times. The lights of therides were beautiful. For many years the Fair was not complete without atremendous thunder storm and sometimes funnel clouds in the area. Later,a tornado destroyed the Fair Grandstand only a short time after it was filledto capacity. The severe weather conditions and the lights brought an indescribableexcitement to the Fair. The 4H exhibit hall was a favorite place. I alwaystook time to look at every exhibit. I always wondered how I could neverget beyond a red ribbon for my vegetables and insect collection. There werea number of local merchants who had exhibits. One of the highlights of theFair was when the car dealer would give away a car and also bicycles. Inever won but the anticipation of winning such a prize was greater thanPublisher's Clearing House.

My favorite place to eat at the fair was the Larson FamilyStand which made
the best hamburgers and generally had the best food at the Fair. Joyce Baldwinfrom Humboldt was a Larson and so many of the Baldwin kids helped out atthe "Larson" food stand. Each of the 4H clubs had special exhibitswhich depicted our activities for the year. I belonged to the "StickTo It" Club which was one of the oldest Kittson County Clubs. We hadvery good adult supervision. The Gatheridges, Baldwins, Bahrs, Wieses, Diamonds,Clows and many other families were active in the club. I remember that theolder kids in the club were very helpful to the younger ones in exhibitingtheir products. Dennis Diamond was one of those older kids who was alwayshelpful to Scott Clow and I who also showed sheep. Another memory I haveis a 4H parade through Hallock. A very pretty young lady asked me to helpcontrol her very large and unruly 4H calf. I managed to keep the calf fromstampeding through the streets of Hallock, but still received only a whiteribbon. I can still remember the smell of those hamburgers at the Larsonfamily stand. I hope that other former Kittson County residents will contributetheir memories of the Fair and of their "Wonder Years."
of the Fair and of their "Wonder Years."