New ‘fair views’

By on October 1, 2014


Andy Fasnacht

Andy Fasnacht

With me celebrating my 50th Ephrata Fair in 2014, I felt it was more important than ever to find some new perspectives.
OK, so maybe I don’t recall the first five or so &tstr; when the highlight was probably picking up a duck and maybe getting a small chunk of cotton candy &tstr; but you get the point.
Now don’t get me wrong, I love the fair and it’s not like I’m a person bored with TV, channel surfing for something that will knock their socks off. Truth is, I just want to experience as much of the fair as possible and if my beloved traditions put me in too much of a rut, I really am not getting the full picture. This can be the case with food &tstr; I have so many “must-have’s” each year, that I always risk the possibility of running out of time and never getting to try anything new. Of course, this almost never happens as I just make sure there is sufficient time budgeted for traveling both the familiar and uncharted sections of the street buffet. It can also be the case with activities, and perhaps the parade, if you are one to do more socializing and eating at your friend or relative’s house, instead of actually watching the floats and bands go by. I have also been guilty of this over the years…no question.
So this year, two different opportunities presented themselves that allowed me to experience views and perspectives of the fair I hadn’t enjoyed in any of those 50 years.
If you recall, in last week’s column, I lamented the fact that son Ethan likely would not be able to march and play tuba in the fair parade last Wednesday. This was a big bummer for him &tstr; and me &tstr; since as a junior at EHS, he only has two of these left. Later in the afternoon, the situation grew more dismal when I found out they no longer drive the trailer in the parade and really only have a wagon with water, in addition to the band. So unless Ethan would be able to convince Tim or one of the other parents to haul him along with the 30-packs of spring water, he would be viewing from the comfort of a Lake Street seat, purchased earlier in the day by dad.
So at some point late that afternoon, I get a call from Ethan wondering if anyone has a wheelchair he could borrow. He said he just figured out that if someone would push him in the wheelchair through the parade route, he could be with the band and still play the tuba!
“Hey, that may work Ethan, but who are you going to get to push you?”
No sooner were the words out of my mouth that the answer became crystal clear. If Ethan was going to play his tuba and get pushed along the nearly-four mile parade route, the only one who was going to volunteer to do that pushing was dad. With Ethan following in my footsteps in his growth pattern and toting a tuba as big as a VW bus, this was going to be a challenge. But suddenly the fatigue from a late night Tuesday with the paper, weariness from gathering all the information for our fair preview edition &tstr; not to mention the grogginess from eating nothing but fried foods on opening day &tstr; slipped away with the prospects of getting to be part of the band in the parade, and more importantly, do something that was very important to my son.
So off we went with the EHS Marching Unit through the streets of Ephrata, as I furiously tried to keep Ethan’s chair in line with the other musicians in his row. Most of the route wasn’t too bad and we had a blast watching the reactions of and hearing encouragement from the spectators. For me, this was an extra thrill because, though I have had the pleasure of being in the Ephrata Fair Parade quite a few times, I have never been part of a marching band. What a rush being tucked away inside the powerful sounds coming from the group as they marched in step down our hometown streets. The best part is, I got to feel the energy of the tunes and feel the joy and camaraderie of the group without having one shred of musical ability. All I had to do was muscle up and get that chair through the route. Like I said, this wasn’t too bad for the majority of the parade…then came the Locust Street hill between Church and Lincoln avenues. You know, when you think of all the great hills in town, you likely wouldn’t even put this in the top 10 but just for fun give it a try. Then try it again pushing tuba man, cranking out the bass line for “With A Little Help From My Friends,” providing the perfect soundtrack of irony for this fun twist to the evening.
Somehow the adrenaline, or the thought that potpie day at the fair was only hours away, propelled us through and I finally got to catch my breath on Lincoln before exiting onto Main (thank you to the young man who correctly guessed that I was in dire need of a water!). Going on to Main created a challenge of its own, as now we had to do reverse engines and keep the chair from rolling down the steep hill that once helped rocket soap box derby cars in the early ‘70s. I then had a thought and leaned down to Ethan’s ear to share.
“Hey, bud, if I let go of your chair right now and you go flying down the hill into the midway, what do you think the chances are that you end up with a funnel cake in your mouth?”
He wasn’t amused.
I then reminded him we were about to go in front of the judges and announcers on Lake Street. I said I bet if I push him out in front of the line, he would get on TV.
“Dad, just make sure we stay in formation.”
OK, that’s good…he has his priorities straight. And a short while later, it was all over and we had lots of laughs until the next day when the soreness kicked in and I almost….ALMOST…was unable to walk up the street for my pot pie.
Then on Saturday I had a much different type of first experience at the fair &tstr; calling bingo for the Lions Club. I had joked with Lion Nevin Rutt on Thursday that I would be glad to help sometime. Being the loyal Lion he is, Rutt returned shortly with his schedule notebook and asked what slot I wanted.
Taking a Saturday night shift, I was given a quick primer and was on my way. Caroline had warned me that I had better not be too slow but the automatic timer certainly kept me in line with that. But the most challenging part of it all for me with my big dopey fingers was not letting the bingo ball fly away out of the “corn popper” when trying to read the number.
The perspective I loved the most from this however was just sitting there above it all and watching how much people enjoy this great fair tradition. Certainly it is always fun and relaxing for me to play here or at one of the Lions’ marathons at the Rec. I just love it. But sitting in the catbird’s seat calling the numbers really gave a great view of not only all the patrons having fun but also the dedicated Lions walking through the tables collecting money, giving change, tabulating winnings and even delivering cold soda to the tables. We have all heard of some of the high tension bingo nights at clubs around the county…and here we have the polar opposite. It’s just a big tent full of people having a good time and supporting a wonderful group of people.
Thanks for having me and thanks for all you do in the community.
And thank you Ephrata Farmers Day Association and its many volunteers, along with the boro, police and emergency workers who all team together to bring us this grand annual event.
Can’t wait for another new view next year, whether it’s uphill, downhill or near the top of the bingo tent.


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