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Published August 17. 2013 09:04AM

By Mary Tobia

As summer rolls to a close it means county fair season is getting in high gear.

Whether you're riding the rides, people-watching, eating great foods or just strolling around to see the exhibits, going to the fair is a great experience.

The Pennsylvania State Association of County Fairs consists of 110 agricultural fairs held annually throughout our state. Approximately 5.5 million fairgoers attend them each year.

An added benefit to attending a local fair is the money you spend at the fair will usually stay in the immediate community.

Last week we took our two oldest grandsons and headed to the opening day of the Carbon County Fair, located just outside of Palmerton.

The weather was clear, warm with no humidity making it the perfect evening for a walk through the fair.

The teenage boys headed to the food stands vowing to eat all the elephant ears, fried Oreos and blooming onions their stomachs would allow. I also heard one of them say they were going to check out the chicks but somehow I don't think they were talking about the livestock area.

My husband and I found our way to our favorite sausage sandwich food stand and those wonderful French fires with vinegar and salt. These are our never-miss fair foods.

As we walked through the carnival rides, we reminisced about when our kids were small. Seems like only yesterday when we were watching our children excitedly ride the Merry-Go-Round or the Scrambler.

Next on our quest through the fair was the agricultural tent. Here is where I always get inspired by the decorated live flower arrangements and the beautiful home grown fruits and vegetables. We both made a mental note of how maybe next year we can get our tomatoes to look this good.

I had to stop and touch each of the pine Christmas trees on display and smell their fragrant aroma. It was enough to get me looking forward to dragging out all of our decorations down this year and decorating our tree.

Then on to the animal exhibits. Belonging to a 4-H club was an important part of my life growing up on the farm so it is only natural that this part of the fair is my very favorite. This is where we spent the longest time.

Here we saw young boys and girls watching over their sheep, goats, beef or dairy cattle, rabbits or poultry entries with pride. I appreciated the hard work these boys and girls have done to ready their animals for judging day.

New to the fair this year was the garden tractor pull. Yes, I found myself cheering on my favorite little red tractor as it pulled the heavy load.

Then it was time to get an ice cream cone and we made our way over to the bandstand to watch the evening entertainment. We are never disappointed and always delighted to hear some good old rock and roll sounds.

Later we met back up with the boys in the arena area as we got ready for the last event of the evening ... the fireworks. The show was a spectacular event with lots of "ooohs" and "aaahhs" from the bleachers as the colorful fireworks shot high into the sky and came cascading back to ground.

As we all headed back to our car, it was agreed that it is always a fare day to go to the Fair!

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