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FAll Brings Great Memories of Tri-Lake Fair

By Jack Gurner

Fall officially arrived this past weekend. Autumn commenced at 5:44 a.m. last Sunday morning, according to those who keep track of such things.

For those of us who don’t, the transition between Summer and Fall is a lot more than a number on a calendar page. For me, the end of September brings back memories of some of the most exciting sights, sounds, and smells of the whole year.

It usually took the first few weeks of September for me to get over my kid-sized depression over going back to school. It wasn’t that I didn’t like school. It was not being able to go outside when I wanted and having to be careful to color inside the lines that bothered me.

By this time in September, I was looking forward to my birthday on Sept. 29, the arrival of the Sears “Wish Book” Christmas catalog, and the opening of the Tri-Lake Fair. The Herald is filled with stories about the Tri-Lake Fairs which ran from 1953 through 1959 and drew thousands of visitors.

One of the most powerful memories is the smell of the Fair. Fellow old-timer Bobby Suratt remembered the aroma of candied apples mixed with cotton candy, burgers and barnyard. “That’s what a fair ought to smell like,” he said.

Here is some 1957 Tri-Lake Fair news from 50 years ago which appeared in the Herald:

Miss Water Valley 1957 Virginia Wilbourn and 1956 Queen of the Forrest Patsy Hart cut the official ribbon opening the Fair and Jaycee President Red Vines made the opening address.

The number of industrial booths was larger than ever before. At one of the electrical cooperative booths, the cooking of foods on electronic devices was explained by Mrs. Mary Messer, local home economist. At one of the home demonstration booths, a complete wardrobe for women made by Mrs. Clifton Hudson from flour sacks was on display.

The Jaycees proudly announced they had acquired a top notch carnival that was run by a native Mississippi couple from Holly Springs, “We have the cleanest show in America with not a single girlie show or ‘skin booth’ on the midway,” said J. J. Fredricks of Motor State Shows.

One of the most popular attractions at the Fair was the dunking booth sponsored by the Lions Club. You bought three balls and threw them at a target. One of Water Valley’s “good citizens” was perched on the end of a plank which would drop very rapidly if you hit a bull’s eye.

A partial list of “dunkees” included Dr. Fred Hedges, Kyle Skinner, Rev. Lawrence Berry, Dr. D. F. Spears, Dalton Hyde, Martin Adams, Dr. Billy Howard, Andy Griffin, Quay Jones, Dr. R. N. Edgar, J. N. Bell, Coach Bobby Tyler, Brooks Chittom, Lawrence Cox, and George Surrette.

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