Strolling down memory lane


Happy 4th of July! I hope that you had a wonderful weekend and were able to enjoy time with family and friends.

Picnics are the best, except I usually find myself eating way too much and feeling stuffed afterwards. I look forward to the fireworks each year, it reminds me of being a kid and staring up into the sky with wonder and amazement at each burst of color. We would drive into town, spread a blanket out on the ground and wait for what seemed like hours. Of course, it was only about 20 to 30 minutes but as a child it seemed much longer. Daddy would make homemade popcorn to take with us to munch on as we watched. I loved it!

July is one of my favorite months of the year for many reasons. I was married in July and gave birth in July. Then as a young girl there was the Great Shelby County Fair where I showed horses in 4-H. I have so many good memories of the fair. Being in 4-H taught me a lot in terms of life lessons. I was solely responsible for an animal that was completely dependent on me for food, water and exercise. The bond I formed with my horses is hard to put into words. If you are a horse person you will understand.

Since I work at the Senior Center I do look forward each year to the Senior Day — Tuesday, July 26 — at the Shelby County Fair. We have a wonderful event that morning in the Free Entertainment tent. It begins with registration at 9 a.m., Agency booths open at 9:30 a.m., Bingo at 10 a.m. and the Senior Center Singers at 11 a.m. Awards are given out for the Oldest gentleman, Most Mature lady (I was taught never to call a lady old!) and longest married couple at 11:30 a.m. with a free lunch at noon to the first 500 registered. It is a fun event! You can pre-register by calling the Senior Center at 937-492-5266.

Afterwards I take a little bit of time to visit the horse barns. As I walk through I reminisce about “back in the day” when I was a young girl showing. I enjoy looking at the picture boards the participants have put together. Things have changed a lot, but I can still feel the excitement, nervousness and anticipation radiating off the 4H members.

As I write this, I remember a few weeks ago my husband was cleaning out the attic. I was surprised when he came down with a cardboard box, falling apart after decades in the heat up there. Inside was one of my trophies for Barrel Racing from the fair in 1987! I was instantly transported back in time to the moment my winning time was announced over the loudspeaker. The rush of emotions that day included pride, accomplishment and relief all at the same time. I had worked so hard and finally achieved my goal! I took a picture of it in its current dilapidated state and told him to dispose of it. I did keep a photo album from that time in my life filled with pictures and ribbons. One of the ribbons has a cute note saying: “Popcorn got hungry.” Popcorn was one of my horses and she had chewed on it as it was hanging on the stall door!

The next stop on my walk down memory lane is the grandstand, midway and livestock barns. I remember there used to be a donut stand right next to the grandstand. We would get a fresh donut then go up into the stands to watch the harness racing. Before the current horse arena was built, my sisters would show their horses on the racetrack. That was a very long time ago! The fairground has changed a lot over the years. There used to be a row of stalls along the edge of the fairgrounds as you walk past the grandstand on your way to the current horse barn. We fondly referred to it as shed row. The stalls were very small and in fact, my first year showing 4-H I had to back my horse into the stall as she was too big to turn around in it. Time has gone by fast and I am glad the new horse barn was built. It’s a wonderful building.

I do miss the home cooking grange halls, etc. There are couple left (I think) but most of the food is what many of us call “Fair Food.” Food Trucks have gotten very popular the last few years and I am definitely a fan of the “Crazy Red Head Canteen” truck so I will be hoping to find them this year. I hope you take some time to check out the fair this year and enjoy walking down your own memory lane.

If you are 50 years of age or better and the Fair is not your cup of tea, I invite you to stop down to the Senior Center for a tour and two free visits! See all that we have to offer!

Until I see you at the Center,

Have a Blessed Day!

By Rachel Hale

The writer is the executive director of the Senior Center of Sidney and Shelby County.

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