My older daughter and I went to our first fair of the season – our Warren County Fair in Lebanon, Ohio. The day was beautiful with bright, sunny skies and an 80 degree temperature.
I’ve exhibited many times in the past, but this year I left it all to my daughter who entered several needlework, jewelry and crocheted items. As always, she did well with 7 blue ribbons and 3 second place awards.
I looked at all of the displays in the large building that housed the needlework, quilting, knitting, sewing, cooking, crafts, etc., exhibits and then found a seat near the racetrack while my daughter went to visit all the animal barns.
I’ve loved harness horses for as long as I can remember and always feel a sense of contentment watching them on the track.
I was able to watch three exciting races, close enough to the track to hear the hoof beats, and we started back home, both of us happy with our first fair of the season.
I have so many wonderful collectibles acquired over the last 80+ years. Some were gifts, some were part of my life growing up, some were inherited, some were purchased at antique malls, gift shops or thrift stores – all are precious to me. Some items are kept up year-around while others are brought out seasonally and on holidays. Unfortunately, many priceless-to-me objects go undisplayed and unseen for years, so each week, I’m going to pull out an item and post a COLLECTIBLE OF THE WEEK.
The first county fair of the year in our area is happening this week (Warren County – Lebanon, Ohio) and it’s time to bring out my fair collectibles. I have quite a few since I’ve been a fair enthusiast all my life. The top two vintage banners are for our local Cincinnati (Hamilton County) fair and the Ohio State fair, hanging on an old cane won many years ago.
Since my father trained and drove harness horses, fair time is synonymous with trotters and pacers in our family. I have a nice assortment of commemorative glasses and mugs on my kitchen shelf (along with a doll that won a prize for her pretty dress about 30 years ago and some small spoons).
Although they are not fair activities, I display my items from the Little Brown Jug (the World Series of pacers) ….
…and the Hambletonian (the World Series of trotters) along with a 1976 commemorative bottle from the Fairfield County (Lancaster, Ohio) fair.
I’ve exhibited many times at fairs in the past but this year have left it to my older daughter who took a few of her antiques to Lebanon. Can’t wait until tomorrow night to see how she did – and to watch a couple of harness races.
County fairs were the major source of summer entertainment throughout my childhood in the 1930-40s era and we went to as many fairs as we could manage on my father’s salary and his gas ration points during World War II. My favorite part of the fair was sitting around the barn before and after the afternoon’s races, listening to all of the “horse talk” going on around me and just sniffing – a horse barn is still my favorite scent in the world. Of course, a barn is always full of flies. My mother used to say that my little sister, who was so anxious to get to the midway and rides, would sit on a folding chair in the barn area and constantly wriggle, scratch, complain, and whine, while every fly in the county landed on her. Meanwhile, I sat very quietly, taking in all the sights, sounds and smells with not one fly near me.
In my childhood, the horses made up 90% of my interest in the fair, so all through my life, I’ve collected anything with a harness horse on it. I have quite a few items in my kitchen:
Although I always loved the horses the most, I was also anxious to see the baking and canning displays, the animals, and the quilts.
My kitchen shelf has a large silver tray on top that was won by my father for a race in 1969, and there are two silver bowls plus a brass tray that I won in pie contests in the 1980s.
All of the family competed and won awards in our county fairs and the Ohio State Fair.
It’s fair time again and although we don’t compete any more, I have a small county fair to enjoy right here in my own kitchen.
Click on pictures to enlarge.
Yesterday, I posted a tribute to my father on what would have been his 100th birthday. To commemorate the occasion, I also made three mini-quilts to fit on a tri-stand that I got for Mother’s Day.
The pictures represent his childhood, his family and his beloved horses.
I had the perfect backing using scraps from a previous quilt for my horse-loving grandson.
My daughter bought the stand at the April Cincinnati quilt show and it is the 4×9 Scroll Tri-Stand available through www.ackfeldwire.com.
This time, my daughter made the find and presented it to me as a gift. She found a 1946 edition of Popular Mechanics Magazine with a great cover picture of harness horses trotting behind a starting gate. She knew I would be thrilled with anything with a harness horse on it but she didn’t realize that I would remember the magazine from when my father had it back in 1946. He also couldn’t pass up anything about a harness horse.
My father came from a family of harness horse people and had been caring for horses since he was a child. As a teenager, he was already a respected driver on the county fair circuit, but gave up the horse business when he married my mother in 1932. He knew what a hard life it was for a child and was determined his own two daughters would have things better.
In September of 1946, I was a freshman in high school and by 1950 when I graduated, my father had bought a horse and was back in the business for the rest of his life.
The magazine included a nice article about harness horses and especially about the starting gate on the car which had first been used that year at the old Roosevelt Raceway in New York. Up until this time, races were started by an announcer trying to get all of the horses away at the same time, resulting in a lot of false starts, restarts, etc.
There were some other articles and ads about repairing a radio (just before the debut of TV), and various handyman projects.
I was intrigued by the ads, noticing several for getting into the plastics business which was booming after World War II.
I wear a tiny hearing aid that is barely visible, so I was interested in an ad about a hearing aid the size of a deck of playing cards with the ear plug attached by a cord. I remember my grandfather carrying this kind of hearing aid in his shirt pocket.
I love old magazines and ads, and the cover is worthy of copying and framing, so this was a very good find at the antique mall.