River Stones: Memories of the Bridgewater Fair

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Date Submitted: 11/27/2012 02:56 PM

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In the military, where you are from says a lot about who you are. And the Army especially has people from everywhere; Alaska to Florida, Maine to Hawaii. But New England, Connecticut in particular, has the fewest service members claiming it as home. So when I start to speak of home, all the Southern Boys, the Californians and the Texans start to rag on me. They say, “Rich girl, what's in Connecticut?” So I start to defend my home. Yes, my state is little. Yes, the people here are slightly more well off that elsewhere. (Don’t quote me, there are statistics on a government website somewhere saying as much.) Yes, we don't really have a claim to fame, like big cities or dramatic landscapes or celebrities. But I believe that the best things are found where no one else looks, like roadside family diners and little bead stores. So, I’ve stopped defending my home. I sit back on my stool or in my chair and smile. I think they get a little jealous when they see me remembering like that, because they know whatever it was, it was fantastic.

Most of the time, I am thinking of the Bridgewater Fair.

I have lived through and attended two decades of Fairs (except for that one time when i had the chicken pox and couldn't go out.) I remember the first time eating cotton candy, an addiction i have yet to kick. I remember the first time watching the oxen pull with Mom, and the big heavyweights that seemed to go right to the sky. I remember riding the Avalanche when it was new, letting the little calves at the cattle show barn suck on my fingers. I remember getting to stay after dark for the first time, and the whole Fair was transformed into a glittering hodgepodge that outshines Las Vegas, and the (usually damp) summer air was heavy with roast beef, sugar, and music from the bandstand. I remember when the old bandstand was torn down. I remember the new one going up. I remember taking our dog for walks on the grounds the weeks before the Fair, and the days after. I remember getting...