Columns and stories of life from the Fredericksburg area.
Caroline County Agricultural Fair is a low-tech joy
BY CATHY DYSON
The Free Lance-Star
First, I’d like to apologize to everyone my grandson bumped into at the Caroline County Agricultural Fair last week.
In his defense, Hunter is only 16 months old. When he sees something that interests him—rabbits in the petting zoo, a water bucket in the barn, or black, shiny tires on a brand-new tractor—his only concern is getting from point A to point B.
He doesn’t bother to look where he’s going, even if that means plowing into people or not-so-subtly pushing them aside.
Second, I’d like to congratulate the fair sponsors for putting together one
of the neatest events I’ve seen in a while. I took my daughter and three grandchildren, primarily because a new pavilion was being dedicated to the late Wickham Coleman Sr.
In 2001, a photographer and I followed Mr. Coleman and his family through the seasons of planting and harvest and produced a series about life on their farm. The Colemans and I have kept in touch ever since, including the Friday in April when
Mr. Coleman’s wife, Doris, called to say he’d passed away.
A little more than two months later, I got an email from Fran Whittaker, president of the fair, telling me about the pavilion being built in Mr. Coleman’s honor. She said livestock shows would be held in the building that bears his name, and that sounded perfect.
The dedication was held the day the fair opened, and several hundred people gathered. Throughout the evening, as
I walked past the building with one or the other grandchild in tow, I thought about how Mr. Coleman would appreciate the scenery.
People played corn-hole games nearby, ate free ice cream or stopped to talk and catch up on family news. Those who wanted to have their stomachs twisted inside out could climb into rides. They boarded contraptions named after zippers and bullets while the rest of us enjoyed a quiet side of life—looking at piglets and pullets.
Did I mention how many tractor tires we touched? I can’t tell if Hunter is more of a John Deere man or a Kubota fan, but he certainly patted his share of rubber at the fairgrounds, even on the antique models.
We also hovered around the petting zoo, where he fed carrot slices to a camel, llama and sheep. The only thing that drew his attention away from the animals was—you guessed it—more tires.
This time, they were on four-wheelers owned by the Caroline Sheriff’s Department.
Hunter really wanted to climb aboard one with a camouflage design, and I tried to shoo him away, telling him it wasn’t ours.
The officer in the nearby dunk tank said, “You can let him sit on it,” and Hunter’s eyes lit up when he got into the driver’s seat.
I’d like to say he had the same reaction when I put him in a trough of corn kernels, but he panicked. While his cousin Tyler, who’s 8, did backstrokes in the trough, Hunter was happy just standing beside it and tossing corn at Tyler and Tyler’s sister, Emily.
Around us, kids rode ponies and a mechanical bull. The lyrics of “Rawhide” and other Western songs I hadn’t heard in decades filled the air. There were bags of cotton candy and sticks of candy apples all around.
It was a wonderfully low-tech environment, and we couldn’t have enjoyed ourselves more.
Cathy Dyson: 540/374-5425