Posted 8/22/18 (Wed)
Those of you that have been following this column over the years know this is one of my favorite times of the year. It’s fair time!
Now I don’t get too excited for the State Fair in Minot. Oh, 50 or 60 years ago I would. I loved the rides. I loved the livestock barns. I loved the food and the crowds.
As I’ve aged, I started to hate the crowds. I got sick on the rides. I hated waiting in line for cotton candy or a pig on a stick. We were providing livestock for the rodeo there and it was too hot and too congested to really have fun.
But over the past several years I’ve began appreciating those good county fairs more and more. Slope County in North Dakota, and Harding County in South Dakota.
Slope’s is coming up this weekend. This one is often referred to as the World’s Fair. The Harding County Fair just ended its three-day run last weekend.
The Harding County Fair takes place at Camp Crook. A wonderful small town on the banks of the Little Missouri. I had taken a horse to the vet at Sturgis, so I came up to Camp Crook from the South. On a gravel road known locally as the Norwegian Cut Across, or the Long Lonesome. I don’t think there are many gravel roads in the country where you can drive about 60 miles without seeing a hint of pavement, very few power lines, and not too dang many ranches.
You will see cattle, antelope, and a few horses. You may see a mule deer, an occasional jackrabbit, and a hawk on the wing. If you are going to meet someone, which is unlikely, you are forewarned, because there will be a trail of dust for miles marking their progress.
You will see miles and miles of grass. You will see miles and miles of wide-open country and unfettered skies. You will pass a long ago abandoned one-room school, with four or five empty houses within a couple miles. If you stop your car and listen closely, you can still hear those country kids making their way home from that country school, maybe on foot, probably on horseback.
By most of these old homesteads, you find a handful of trees, leaning a little from the winds. They won’t be giant oaks. They won’t be towering evergreens. They, much like the people that still inhabit this wonderful country, will be a bit weathered. They will have roots that run deep into the South Dakota prairies. They will have withstood everything that Mother Nature has dished out over the past 150 years. They did what they had to do to survive. And prosper.
Dang it! This started out to be about the fair. But I kind of drifted off. I’ll tell you about the fair next week. See you there!