Fun, food and family at the fair

CENTRAL POINT— County fairs are an old tradition — 150 years for Jackson County — with the annual adventure starting for most in childhood. It is a unique playground, after all.

A peculiar yet pleasant aroma of livestock leavings and fried foods are among the first sensations to greet a fairgoer, combined with near frenzy as lines of people are seen at every turn.

Young Makenzie Hickman can be found doting over her steer named Tank in the livestock area in hopes of being the first to sell him for her 4-H project.

Elephant ears, funnel cakes, curly fries, snow cones and candied apples are among the goodies typically found at such events offering something of a guilty pleasure for some who leave the vendor with comments like, "I really shouldn't be eating this."

The rides and games from Butler Amusements is where most of the action can be found. Grown men spinning in circles make futile attempts to hide their look of nausea. Riders must be 48-inches tall for the large ones.

Teenage girls ride the Vipor, a particularly dizzying ride; with that sour look only teenagers manage while conducting important business on their phones. Cell phones come in handy for parents, too as they are free to play in their way and turn the kiddos loose with a phone to track their wanderings.

The Drop Zone is a ride highly recommended by the nice grey-haired woman in the ticket booth. This one takes you up five stories in a seat and lets you drop. A less-than-tough scream is difficult to hold back.

Mitch Mcloughlin liked to spend a lot of his time on the Zipper. This year his child, about a year old, keeps him on the ground.

All the fair fun is not inexpensive; a thought on many minds as they decide whether or not to attend. It's $8 for adult admission. Ride tickets are $1 each with rides costing 3-6 tickets to go on. There are wrist bands for unlimited ride fun for $28.

Drinks will cost you too, with a cost-cutting idea available. Refill water bottles for free in the first aid area. Staying hydrated in the hot summer sun is a good idea anyway. Try eating before you head out, it may offer a willpower boost for those greasy snacks.

Mechelle and Mitch Mcloughlin, fair regulars, are spending less at the fair this year, though they say that could be because of their young son.

"I think it's slower on a cooler day than it should be," said Mitch Mcloughlin, adding that people shouldn't have to pay for the music when it used to be better music for free (included in fair admission).

"The petting zoo was nice," Mechelle Mcloughlin said.

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