|Me, a lot younger and a lot thinner, but deliriously happy with my prizes.|
Also, Mom won the pie contest for the second straight year. That silver bowl sits on a shelf in the kitchen every year during fair season, along with the brass tray she got for her first win and a second silver bowl she won for the fruit pie division a few years later. (In 1985, the fair expanded the pie contest to three categories.) Mom also won a slew of ribbons in 1984 in canning and baking, including Best of Show in preserves.
|The promotional photo the fair sent out the following year of Mom and her prize-winning pie.|
However, I do have a lingering regret from that fair: I was at the fairgrounds the Friday evening Mary Lou Retton got the women's all-around gold medal in gymnastics.
Two good friends and I had a tradition at the time of attending the fair on Friday night so they could see my entries as well as the rest of the attractions. Our visit included a thorough tour of the livestock barns, and I have a distinct memory of seeing portable televisions set up in the "housing" areas along several animal pens, each one tuned to the Olympic games and Mary Lou Retton. I saw her accepting applause for one of her feats, but I'm not sure which one. I don't remember if I knew at that point that she was winning the gold medal.
I wouldn't have traded that night at the fair for anything, especially considering the changes in the fair and the fact that my friends and I stopped attending together almost two decades ago. It always nagged at me, though, that I missed such a historical night at our home Olympics. Whenever the gymnastics are broadcast, I think of that August evening in the dusty livestock barns and of a small TV sitting on a hay bale with a grainy, possibly black-and-white image of Mary Lou Retton.