Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Colorful Country Carnival

The local newspaper informed me that Amissville Volunteer Fire and Rescue was having a carnival, so after work on Friday, I drove down. It's only about 25 minutes from my house, and I took all the back roads, with my windows down, the sweet smell of hay wafting through the car. Like many of the locals, I just left my car on the grass verge of the highway and walked up to the bank, weaving slowly through the large crowds already in attendance. Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing' was playing alongside the traditional carnival organ music that was blaring out from the carousel, and amazingly the combination didn't sound too bad. Young teenagers strolled past sporting confederate flag tattoos on their cheeks, many of the women wore cowboy boots with jeans, shorts or dresses, and I looked down at mine, scuffed and worn, glad that until I spoke with my accent I was able to mingle in.
Until it was dark enough to see the rides' lights I just strolled through the carnival, watching the kids trying to win hermit crabs or quarters and their fathers showing off as they attempted to dunk basketballs through hoops in one go. Young girls stood in groups and giggled as they stood in line for the ferris wheel. The food and drink vendors were busy, handing out hot dogs, cotton candy or fresh lemonade. The aromas were delicious and I was glad I'd eaten dinner before coming here so I could avoid the temptation of these treats. although I have never been a fan of funnel cake or those large soft pretzels, so I walked past those quite easily without a backward envious glance at whoever was tucking into their feasts, content to just sniff as I passed them by.
The daylight slipped down over the horizon, leaving the sky a dark but bright blue, and the lights of the rides twinkled like flashing jewels. Because it was a small family run carnival, these rides were older and not lit up with thousands of the new glaring and brash LED lights that the newer rides are adorned with. I was happy with that. Even though there were less bulbs decorating the sky this evening, the colors were richer and warmer, the whites giving of a softer yellow glow rather than the piercing icy whites of the newer bulbs that always made me squint.
The carousel looked like a spaceship about to take off, the moving horses with their riders just a blur. The deep whirring of the rides, and the clunking of cogs as the engines strained to build up the speed accompanied the squeals and laughs of the riders, shouts and whoops and grinding and grating.  The throbbing of the machinery could be felt through the ground as though the carnival were a huge creature pounding the earth, with us people clinging to its back.
We always called this ride the American Whip back home, loving its speed as it hurled us from side to side, trying to scare us as we slammed towards the railings, only to whip back at the last second. I had to wait a while for the ride to start, my boots tapping to Copperhead Road, itching to perform the line dance routine that I'd learned years ago with my friend Belinda. The ride built up speed and I took my photos. I wasn't sure if it was because I'm older or because of health and safety regulations but it certainly was moving as fast as I remembered,
I left after a couple of hours, The crowds had actually increased, it seemed all the small villages nearby had left their TVs and were here tonight. I imagined empty homes, lights on but no one at home, or pets or parents enjoying a few hours of peace. For sure all the noise and excitement was in this small space tonight, and although I'd enjoyed the frenetic brilliance, I too was glad to eventually climb the hill to my peaceful home.

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