Fun at the Fair(s)

FullSizeRender(7)You know summer is over and fall has arrived when it’s time for the county fair. I used to go to the Orange County Fair in NY State back in my youth, and I remember the livestock displays (and the aroma!); the games of chance where you could win a giant Teddy bear; the junk-food booths that sold corn dogs and funnel cakes and cotton candy. My favorite attractions were the carnival rides that tossed you back and forth and upside down until you regretted eating all that junk food.

FullSizeRender(10)I haven’t been to a county fair in years, so when my sister-in-law, Molly, and niece, Carrie, invited me to the Allegan County Fair here in Michigan last week, I just had to go. Everything was exactly as I remembered it. The (aromatic) livestock and produce displays, bristling with prize ribbons. The tempting games of chance with stuffed animals dangling as bait. Are they still “rigged”, I wonder? And the junk food booths! The county fair isn’t the best place to count calories or eat healthy food, but how could I resist? I’m way past the age where going on the carnival rides is fun—or wise. So why not indulge in a funnel cake?

Ohio River Festival of BooksA week later, I went to another fair in Huntington, West Virginia. There were no pigs or horses or carnival rides this time—just BOOKS! This was The Ohio River Festival of Books, sponsored by the Cabell County Public Library, and I was honored to be one of their special guests. I spoke about “My Roller Coaster Ride into Publishing” at one of their breakout sessions. Here are three of my new friends and fellow book-lovers, Ted, Maria and Deborah. Afterward, I signed books.FullSizeRender(3)

Here, I’m talking to Vicky Woods, the librarian who arranges to send digital recorded books to the library’s sight-impaired patrons, as part of the Library of Congress’ services. Vicky made my day when she told me about a 90 year-old patron who loves reading my books.FullSizeRender(2)

FullSizeRender(8)The fair was filled with books—new books, used books, children’s books, non-fiction books, novels—and the people who love to read them. I talked with many book-lovers who have an appreciation for e-books, but we all agreed that it wouldn’t be nearly as much fun to have an e-book fair as it was to have a real-book fair. There’s something very special about holding a book in your hands and turning the pages . . . don’t you agree? I mean, would the County Fair be the same if we were watching the pigs on video screens instead of seeing (and smelling) them in person?