Published in the Rains County Leader on September 22, 2022:
The 92nd annual Rains County Fair has come and gone, and many tired people in Emory and beyond can attest to its success. My perspective of the actual Fair was, as usual, confined mostly to the corner of the Exhibit Building by the restrooms, but since a large percentage of Fair goers pass by my booth at least once during the week, I have a few stories to share.
The festivities began before opening day on Tuesday, so we got up early Saturday morning and headed downtown. David loves a good breakfast, so we attended the American Legion monthly breakfast. Once we were full of some of the best bacon in town and all that goes with it, we walked over to the square to check out the classic cars. There were over 300 entries this year, and all the smiles were almost as bright as the highly polished paint jobs.
Sunday afternoon was set-up time in the Exhibit Building. Linda and Rocky Pietila shared a booth with me, and it took us a while to figure out the exact configuration that showed my books, Rocky’s hand-crafted western decorative items, and Linda’s western memorabilia to the best advantage. With David’s help, we made fairly quick work of displaying our wares and were soon ready for Tuesday’s opening.
Published in the Rains County Leader on September 8, 2022:
The first Rains County Fair was held on the courthouse square in Emory from October 31 through November 1, 1930. A lot has changed since then. The event has moved from the square to the Fair Grounds, it now extends over five days instead of two – and more if you include the judging of the exhibits before the Fair opens and the livestock sales afterward – and it is held in September. But most of all, the Rains County Fair is probably a lot more exciting than it was 92 years ago.
Of course, exciting depends on your perspective –but there’s something for just about everybody regardless of what your perspective is. There are rides for the thrill seekers and all kinds of treats for the foodies. It’s the big finale for students who have spent months raising what they hope will be the prize-winning animal in its class, and it’s the photo op of a lifetime for parents and grandparents whose young ones are competing in one of the pageants or showing off their courage and skill at mutton busting. Those interested and talented in creative arts, horticulture, mechanics, baking, and more can present their offerings to be judged, and those entries are then exhibited for everyone to see.
The Fair itself opens on Tuesday, September 13 and closes on Saturday, September 17. Fair week also includes activities that are not on the Fair Grounds. The 24th annual Classics around the Square car show will take place on September 10, and a parade through downtown Emory and a chili cook-off will take place on the final day of the Fair. There’s much more that I’ve missed, but you can find more information here in the Leader, on the Rains County Fair Facebook page, or at www.rains.agrilife.org/county-fair .
Published in the Rains County Leader on September 21, 2021:
After a year off for COVID isolation, the Rains County Fair was back last week. The first two nights were so slow in the Exhibits and Vendor Building that I wondered if people were still cocooning at home. But even on the slow days, there were interesting people to watch – and by Saturday night, the crowds were back in force.
The most exciting happening on Tuesday evening was a plumbing problem. “Do you know how to unstop a toilet?” asked a distressed-looking Teri Baker. (In spite of the guaranteed traffic flow, there are disadvantages to having a booth just outside the restrooms.) After asking if there was a plunger, I explained its use briefly – but she still looked as if she might be sick, so I followed her into the men’s room. She grasped the handle of the plunger with one hand as close to the end as possible and stood as far away from the toilet as possible. She placed the rubber cup over the outlet and pressed gingerly. When nothing happened, she pressed again. It bubbled once, and she asked hopefully if she should flush now. I knew it was time for me to step in. I became quite an expert with a toilet plunger during my caregiving years, and after about thirty seconds of vigorous plunging, the clog cleared. Teri was very grateful, and I went back to my booth feeling like a hero.
Wednesday was evening more boring. Closing time approached without a single book having left my booth, and there wasn’t even a plumbing issue to break up the monotony. Finally, at 9:55 a man stopped to chat and left with two books and a tote bag. Never had a $26 sale been so welcome. Thankfully, the rest of the week was more productive.
Published in the Rains County Leader on May 25, 2021:
Writing is all about communication – about sharing thoughts and ideas through the written word – and about the connections that are made through that sharing. A writer often doesn’t know when those connections happen, but one of my favorite parts of writing is when a reader reaches out through a review, a comment on a blog or Facebook post, or an email to let me know about a connection.
An early connection happened when I was just beginning to be active on social media. Facebook groups had not yet popped up, at least not in the numbers that exist now, so I contributed occasional articles to several independent websites. One article was about my anger as a caregiver. I admitted lashing out in frustration and anger at my Mom when I first began caring for her only to realize later that my anger, and the underlying fear, were really about the Alzheimer’s that was taking her away from me in a way I could neither understand nor control.
Shortly after the article went live, I received a comment from a young woman whose mother had suffered a fatal heart attack many years before when she was a teenager. The older daughter had driven them all to the hospital, and the teen was confused by her sister’s apparent anger at her mother. After the mother’s death, the sisters were not completely estranged, but they never talked about the situation, and their relationship had not been the same. After reading my article, the younger woman approached her sister, and they talked. After exploring their feelings and reactions on that night that had changed their lives so many years before, healing began and their relationship was restored. Although we exchanged a few more comments, we didn’t strike up a friendship. Still, those written words established a point of connection based our similar experiences.
Published in the Rains County Leader on September 17, 2017:
For the second year in a row I shared a booth at the Rains County Fair with Tennille Case of Tennille’s Cookie Jar. Not only was I right next to all the delicious samples she put out, but I also had the advantage of overflow traffic. My book displays gave her customers something to look at while they waited in line, and she’s a big fan, so she directed them my way.
We had a great location, the same one we had last year. It was right next to the restrooms, so almost everyone who came to the Fair walked right by us at some point during the evening. Even if they didn’t stop, the steady stream of visitors made for great people watching and a nice collection of writing material. Here are a few of the random observations I collected while sitting behind a table, four hours a night for five nights. (more…)
Published in the Rains County Leader on September 18, 2018:
There was a time when a hot date consisted of a stroll on the promenade and a ride on the carousel. To add some excitement to the ride, some carousels featured a dispenser that offered a brass ring. The dispenser was placed so that riders had to stretch, taking a risk of losing their grip and tumbling off their mount, in order to grab it. The reward for grabbing the ring was a free ride, though, so many a dashing young man faced the danger for the chance of winning the admiration of a fair maiden. Brass rings are only available on a few vintage carousels now, but “taking a shot at the brass ring” has come to mean striving for the highest prize, or living life to the fullest. Last week, I shared a booth at the 2018 Rains County Fair with Tennille Case, a very special woman who grabbed her brass ring with both hands and walked away with much more than free ride. (more…)
After living in Emory for almost five years, I finally made it to the Rains County Fair last week. It’s not that I avoided it up to this point, but all my prior fair experience was with the Texas State Fair in Dallas. That one runs for two weeks plus an extra weekend, so there’s time to dawdle over the decision about whether or not to go. The County Fair, though, lasts only five days, and in previous years, it was over before I hardly knew it had opened.
This year, however, I shared a booth with Kent Larson, another local Christian author, and I spent almost twenty hours at the Fair. I sold a few books, but mostly I chatted with people and learned more about life in small town America. Here are some of my observations: (more…)
The story of a lonely, innocent girl who gets tangled up in the sex trafficking trade in a small Texas town. It’s about her relationship with Eric, a slick suburban pimp; Jesse, a Christian tattoo artist and motorcycle rider; and Mrs. G, a compassionate but tough attorney and foster parent.