In 20 years, I can’t recall ever missing the Charlotte County Fair.

Until this past weekend. The COVID-19 got me. I was quarantining. No fair for me. No elephant ears. No rides. No cows.

I was bummed.

Then, I got a bright idea and my two fair buddies, Kam and John Mahshie, helped me pull it off. While none of us are experts with social media and all the gimmicks, we were able to do a Zoom tour of the fair.

John was my guide and he took me through the brand new COVID-inspired entrance-way, to the livestock exhibits, vendors, food booths and rides. It was almost like being there — except I couldn’t stop to get fried onion rings.

The fair board decided early on in the pandemic that if Florida was open, then the fair would go on. They’ve made several changes this year to help make it safer. The new entrance-way is just one thing. The aisles are wider, masks are encouraged — although they are not chasing people down and making them put one on — hand washing is pushed.

The animal exhibits have moved out of the barn into open tents, and the chickens and other small animals are in a shelter with double-wide aisles. Fair-goers are not able to get to the animals to touch them — another safety feature. The annual school art exhibit is also missing, although the kids still compete online and are awarded prizes.

So my tour began at the livestock compound and proceeded down toward the midway, passing numerous vendors and the popular dinosaur show. There was a tent where you could buy any type of socks you wanted — even socks with your favorite breed of dog on them or socks just for lawyers.

A Soldier Solution tent sold anything that might be related to our Armed Forces.

On down the path, I could almost smell the food. Elephant ears, fried Oreos, pizza, cinnamon rolls (big ones), lobster rolls, sirloin tips, chicken on a stick. You want it, they got it.

John took me past the camel rides and on to the midway where all the rides were going strong. The Zipper, my daughter’s favorite, the double Ferris wheel, the Nitro, Ring of Fire, Tornado — all those rides that are designed just to make us sick, I’m sure of it.

The fair goes on through Sunday, opening at 5 p.m. each weekday — except Tuesday, which is free admission starting at 3 p.m. — and noon on Saturday and Sunday.

I have realistic hopes that I will be cleared to rejoin the real world and make the final day or two of the fair this weekend. Meanwhile, check it out. The weather is great, and John and Kam both said the crowds have been as good or better than last year.

All that’s missing, is me.

John Hackworth is the Pulitzer Prize-winning commentary editor for the The Daily Sun.

He can be reached at John.



Load comments