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CLINE: Feeling nostalgic about the county fair

Todd Cline

Todd Cline

This week makes me think about an old Bruce Springsteen song I discovered a couple of years ago. I had never heard it but instantly liked the tune, titled “County Fair.”

With the Gwinnett County Fair starting Thursday, that song is running through my head again. The Boss’ song, released in 1983 and written prior to that, provides a wistful take on what used to be the major happening in most communities. Goes the chorus:

County fair, county fair,

everyone in town will be there,

So come on, we’re going down there

It’s a simple song about a simpler time, Springsteen’s soft vocals lauding the things to do at the fair, from riding a roller coaster to winning a stuffed animal. And as the refrain suggests, the county fair was also a place to see and be seen back in the day.

It still is for some Gwinnettians. A co-worker’s father-in-law, since retired and living out of the county, runs into old friends and acquaintances every year on his visit back to the fairgrounds. Local leaders still make the rounds, and chances are you’ll run into someone you know while traversing the grounds.

The rides aren’t anything like you find at Six Flags or Disney World, but it’s hard to top a nighttime ride on the Ferris wheel and the aerial view of all the lights and people. It’s a peaceful place up in the night sky, and makes me think back to riding the old Ferris wheel at the carnival that came to my town each year.

It’s that nostalgia that makes me enjoy the Gwinnett County Fair so much. Well, that and the funnel cakes. And corn on a stick. And fried Oreos. You get the picture.

The fair runs Thursday through Sept. 26, so there’s ample chance to ride the rides, eat the food, catch a musical act or two, or just do some old-fashioned people watching.

Admission costs $5 for adults, a cheap price for the chance to go back in time.

So check out the fair and the Springsteen song, and maybe they’ll have you humming a new tune about an old tradition.

E-mail Todd Cline at todd.cline@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Wednesdays.