Most of us have experienced the phenomenon that occurs when one sees
something that was first experienced as a child and it seems so much smaller than we remember it. Things seem so grand when we're children and they tend to dominate our minds and memories for years afterward in these grandiose illusions.
Years later, we return to the elementary school of our youth, or the church we
attended as children and are instantly struck by the puny and sometimes pathetic
nature of our memories. It is unsettling and uncomfortable and conjures up visions of the tiny speck of humanity that we represent against the universe.
The South Dakota State Fair is one of those memories. I grew up in Huron and it
was always the BIGGEST EVENT OF THE YEAR, no matter what year we're
discussing. I remember still the first time an adult in Huron told me that they hadn't attended the Fair that year. I was - to use one of my mother's favorite words - flabbergasted that a grown adult didn't bother to attend the Fair. I was unwilling to accept any excuse they might offer...it was simply unforgivable to me.
So I was pretty darned excited that 2020 was to be the first year that Scratchpad
Tees would participate as a vendor in the South Dakota State Fair. I was so excited when we received the initial word that we'd been accepted as a State Fair vendor back in March. I pinned that letter on the bulletin board across from my desk and pointed it out to every visitor, whether they gave a hoot or not.
You see, my first job was as a hot dog vendor at the Fair. I got it by sleeping with
the boss' daughter, or at least kissing the boss' daughter, both a big deal in those times. Local Lutheran minister Ralph Johnshoy ran a couple hot dog stands at either end of the midway, called the Rainbow something-or-other stands and after hanging around his daughter Marlene for a few months, I guess he took pity on me and decided to see what I was made of.
Not much, as it turned out. He fired me after a few days. He told me it was because the Fair was slower than expected that year, but it could have been because he caught me oogling his daughter one too many times. Either way, I was out of a job, at least for that year. I can still recall the calm, professional tone he took with me, and the thoroughly hysterical way I took the news. Bummer.
Fast forward a half-century and here I was, slapping that vendor permit and
bragging to everyone in sight about how many shirts we might sell at the Fair this
year. Then along came COVID-19. As they say, men make plans, God laughs.
For several months, we tried - along with the rest of the world - to imagine a safe way to conduct business with several hundred strangers each day for the 5 1/2 days of the Fair but by June we realized that it likely wasn't the smart plan and informed the Fair that we could not be a vendor this year. Another Fair bummer, and more visions of Ralph Johnshoy's big brown eyes staring down at me through those bi-focals.
But then....EUREKA! We started doing business with Vanessa Barkl of Dakota
Darling Boutique, based in Arlington, South Dakota. And when she shared that she had every intention of operating her mobile boutique at the State Fair this year, madness boiled again in my brain! Scratchpad Tees could indeed be represented at the State Fair in 2020.
So we are proud and delighted to suggest that everyone who takes in the Fair this year stop by Vanessa's big pink van full of great women's apparel and shop her selection of Scratchpad Tees. We know this talented and hard-working South Dakota girl will be successful at anything she does, and we're proud to be her partner.
I have to run a restock order up to Vanessa on Saturday, midway through the Fair.
It will be my first trip back to the State Fair in many, many years, and I’m sure it
will seem diminished and smaller then how I remember it as a boy. I can accept
that easily, however, working now with diminished expectations.
I prefer instead to tap into my inner excitement. I’m still delighted to have a great
excuse to go back, and I know I will walk down vendor row again trying to find
landmarks that are no longer there, seeking a new Rainbow connection.