Truly Blessed

ALS patient James Martin shares his journey.

Same Fair, Different POV

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James Martin
Saturday, September 8, 2012

It is always interesting to see the world from a different point of view.  

This year, like every year for the last twenty, we saw summer end with the Walworth County Fair.  I love the fair.  As kids our family vacation was a trip to the Utah State Fair and the Walco fair connects me to those childhood memories.  Fairs are Americana at its best.  Friends and neighbors, family and strangers all coming together in celebration of our community.

There are booths of crafts painstakingly made by children and adults and commercial booths offering things normally sold on late night tv.  But best of all there is the food: cobbed corn dipped in butter, piles of pork and curds, various fried batters in shapes of ears and funnels covered in sugars, and stuff on a stick that sticks on your thighs to tide you over the winter.  Food is just better at the fair.

A couple of people commented that the fair is always the same.  But that is the point, the consistency of the community coming together in a way that defies the anonymity of modern life.    We don't listen to the same music and tv is narrowcasting to small demographics rather than broadcasting to all of us.  Movies hit target audiences while politics and news are red and blue.

But the fair is the same for all.  There are rides  and games for the young and young at heart.  Entertainment and dancing with animals for showing and bidding.  Methodists, Lutherans, and Catholic Knights selling food to the faithful regardless of their faith.  There are farmers and city folk and those in between.  People with perfect teeth and others without, all sharing the same communal experience.  Yes it is the same, the same for all, year in and out.

This year I experienced the fair in a new way; I saw it from a different point of view.  As my ALS is progressing, I can no longer walk long distances so this was my first fair in a wheelchair.  It is a different view from that level.  I saw the fair from the point of view of my three year old niece in the stroller next to my roller. 

We saw a lot of fair food on shirts, it was like seeing my father after dinner over and over and over again.  We were always looking up at a world that was restricted, beyond our reach.  Most people  looked past us, or more accurately we were below their line of sight.  Occasionally we were parked in anticipation of people and events beyond our control, much like our speed and direction.

But what I saw most was the smiling faces, young and old and in between; people having old fashioned fun. The same fun they had last year and the year before, the same fun their parents had at that age and their grandparents before them.   Yes it was the same fair, just as much fun as years gone by.

Last updated: 10:46 am Wednesday, August 28, 2013

James Martin is a former attorney and graduate of Gonzaga University and Marquette Law School. He lives in Spring Prairie near Burlington. He has been diagnosed with Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS. He is married with 6 kids. James is a community blogger and is not a part of The Gazette staff. His opinion is not necessarily that of the Gazette staff or management.

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