I couldn’t find a ride, but that was no excuse. I had to be there, so I came up with an ingenious and simultaneously idiotic plan. I walked. A long way. Yes, making an appearance at the Platte County Fair was that important to me that I trekked about 2 miles — most of it down the shoulder of Highway 92 — on that hot summer day. How old was I? I can’t remember. Maybe 12 or 14. The details are a bit hazy, but I always think back to that experience when trying to understand the allure of this county’s big summer event. Under most circumstances, showing up to a place hot, sweaty and smelly in nice clothes to walk around in dirt and mud seems absurd. Not at the Platte County Fair. You’re just one of us if you accept those conditions. Everybody is welcome to come and be a part of this social experience. Back in my middle school days, the Platte County Fair offered a gathering of girls, a chance for my friends and I to embarrass ourselves in a lame attempt to hold hands on the ferris wheel or ... hold hands while walking around the midway. Sweaty palms were optional but might as well have been mandatory. The Fair lost its luster for a time. Suddenly, I became too cool for that, too involved in various low-grade nefarious activities, and that’s a complete exaggeration that makes my life sound much more adventurous than it was. There was still the opportunity to go back and experience my first beer at the famed and mysterious Dirty Shame Saloon — magical. Then came the thought to check out the demolition derby and mud-a-thon — majestic. Lately, I’ve gone back at least once a year mostly to observe the people and occasionally run into old friends — magnificent. I’ll experience even more of the Platte County Fair than ever before this summer. After all, part of my job now entails documenting the proceedings. That means mules and donkeys, apple pies and paintings, missies and masters. The whole bit. And maybe a chance to take my son Cale for his first Fair experience. Got to make sure you start them young, make sure they understand early what the Fair means to us.
Ross Martin is publisher of The Citizen. He may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @Citizen_Ross.