NEXT GEN: Ferris Wheels, Funnel Cakes, and Fallby

By Susanna Barbee | Sep 03, 2014
Case, Susanna, Todd, and Brooks Barbee at Haywood County Fair.

I’ve been so caught up in the back-to-school hoopla and adjusting our family to new experiences and routines, I’ve been oblivious to clues all around that fall is quickly approaching.

The morning air has shifted from humid to chilly. Our cucumber and tomato plants are spitting out the last of their fruit before they dwindle into tired brown leaves. Hay bales are beginning to dot local pastures. High school football is in full swing and around here, that’s a definite sign that summer is out and fall is in.

For our family, another significant symbol of fall are the fairs and festivals that bespeckle the event calendars for September and October. We typically start with the Haywood County Fair then move to the NC Apple Festival in Hendersonville, the Mountain State Fair in Asheville, and then the craft fair in downtown Waynesville.

We may even hit up a few other small festivals if our schedule is free. I can’t think of a better way to start the season than to visit our own county fair. It’s not as extravagant as the Mountain State Fair or the North Carolina State Fair, but that’s exactly why it’s refreshing. Sometimes simplicity is all a mommy needs.

We live in walking distance of the Haywood County fairgrounds, and every year our boys get so excited about walking to the fair to “ride rides” and “see the animals.” This year was no different. Prior to the fair opening, we walked to the fairgrounds and watched the crews set up the rides. Then the next day, the distinctive scent of farm animals made its way to our front porch, and we knew the fair was on.

We went on a week night, so there were no lines for the rides and no crowds. Consequently, there were no meltdowns. We leisurely strolled around, and the boys rode all the rides their current heights would allow. They played some games; one won a stuffed animal while the other won a giant inflatable Spiderman that squeaks.

Then eight of us shared a funnel cake so no one would feel guilty. We ended the night by saying “hello” to the animals, viewing the winners in various artistic and agricultural categories, and watching the kiddos dance to the sounds of our hometown boys in The Frog Level Philharmonic. Reflecting upon it now, it makes me smile because it was the quintessential county fair experience.

It makes me happy that our boys live in a place where people still embrace the county’s heritage and celebrate it by bringing everyone together at a fair. Furthermore, I know that all too quickly the time will come when I say, “Boys, do you smell the animals? The fair is here!” And they will say, “Yeah, that’s cool, I guess. I think I would rather go to Zaxby’s then to the football game with the guys.”

I always try to embrace the now because it flees so rapidly. Though this summer was quick and quite mild in regard to temperature, I’m welcoming fall with open arms. We’re excitedly anticipating hayrides, corn mazes, pumpkin carving, and Halloween.

Soon our mountains will be a rainbow of reds, yellows, oranges, and browns. School will be in full swing and the annual county clash football game will be the talk of the town. Fall, bring it on, because there is nowhere else I’d rather be this time of year than in this beautiful place making beautiful memories.

Susanna Barbee is a Waynesville mom, writer, and educator. Find more on her blog, Reach her at