A Cole Camp Fair

Parades, turtle races, hay bale tossing, burgers, and rides, Oh My!

All signs of the Cole Camp Fair. If you’ve talked to my husband and I, you know we love our small town of Cole Camp. And at the top of things to love about this town is its annual fair, affectionately known as the World’s Fair.

There’s no mistaking the fair for anything less than a community-wide celebration of everything good.

The fair demonstrates community at its finest.

A place where all gather,
where all are welcome,
where all have something to share,
where all have something to give,
where all laugh and play,
where all share in the pride of living together year after year.

The fair brings together the youngest to the oldest, new residents to life-long members of the community, and everyone in between.

This year marks our 5th time to experience the fair: so here are a few glimpses into what we love:

*Parades: Four times during the fair the community lines the street. Everything from firetrucks and bands and class reunions and high school groups and floats drive down the main street. As the sun sets the lights over the street come on, the American legion enters, and the town stands in silence as the flag make its way past. With each passing entry in the parade I’ve witnessed my daughter’s awe. She cheers and waves to everyone who passes. She smiles. She lights up.

*Tractors: The Friday of the fair is tractor day. At least that’s what we call it as the park across the street from our home fills with tractors for the afternoon. All shapes and years and colors of tractors can be found. Lots of history can be learned from the tractors. It’s a beautiful sight watching the tractors line up to be in the parade and to hear the history and ownership of each tractor. Families passing the tractors down through the generations. History and love and hard work wound through each tractor.

*Burgers and Pie: There’s something about gorging yourself on burgers and pies during the three days. And not eating a vegetable throughout! Whether it’s the seasoning or the years of practice grilling burgers, the burgers are delicious. Two different churches set up stands across from each other and sell an assortment of pies and grilled burgers. It’s not bread and wine, but it’s a communion of sorts sharing burgers with the fairgoers.

*Meltdowns: Seriously, if you have young children in your life, a meltdown during the fair is inevitable. Most likely, meltdowns will occur each day of the fair! But it’s a sign of time well-spent if your kids are exhausted and reach the brink of tears. Really. As much as I dread the aftermath of the fair and the fighting during naptime and bedtime, my toddler daughter’s meltdowns mean that she’s taken in all she could for the three days. That she’s played and danced, eaten and celebrated. She’s laughed and cheered hard, and when it’s all done she’ll cry and scream hard too.

*Homecoming: The three days of the fair brings everyone back to Cole Camp. High school classes will celebrate their reunions and family members who have moved away return to join in the fun. You walk around town and see circles of friends gathering, sharing memories. In the beer garden families will grab picnic tables and enjoy catching up through food, games, and dancing. No one wants to miss the fair. And I can’t blame them. For who doesn’t need time to simply be in community. To be known, remembered, and loved.

*And finally, fluffed flower floats. Beginning in the summer the churches and other groups gather to fluff flowers made of tissue paper. Thousands upon thousands of flowers need to be fluffed and pleated and arranged on the floats. A true labor of love. A true art. The finished floats are a work of art - with moving parts and music and beautiful designs that celebrate life in the town.

Each time we gather at the fair, I feel connected to the generations who have taken part in the fair through the decades - 101 years worth of fairs! My family is now a part of that history. Every person who comes to the fair joins the community. And for years to come, the Cole Camp fair will keep marching on.