Over the course of this week I have enjoyed watching the Yazoo County Fairgrounds come to life with new and exciting attractions. As I traveled down Gordon Avenue, I couldn't help but notice the brightly colored Ferris Wheel and other cool-looking rides towering over the grounds. Before I knew it, my memories took over and I was a six-year old again, bouncing up and down in the back seat of my Mama's minivan, excited about this new "surprise" she was taking me to.
I sat there on my seat, fidgeting with the zipper on my light blue windbreaker, trying desperately to guess what the surprise was. "Are we going to see Grandma Mary? Are we going to see my best friend Kelsey's house? Are we going to the Zoo?" Were just a few examples of the more than twenty questions I probably asked Mama on that car ride. She simply smiled to herself and laughed and said "You'll just have to wait and see. We will be there in a few minutes."
I couldn't handle the anticipation. I bounced and fidgeted even more in my seat as our car sailed and skipped over the concrete highway in Jackson. That's when I finally saw it. Towering in the distance, and growing ever closer, was the most ginormous Ferris Wheel my six-year old eyes had ever seen. In my eyes it was about 100 feet tall and had more cars that I could count. I could even see a few small dots of people in the cars that were rising above the trees near the highway.
"WE'RE GOING TO THE FAIR!!" I shrieked into my mother's eardrums from the back seat, and she couldn't contain her laughter.
I wasn't a very quiet child, as most people will remember, but I loved to have fun and be outside and Mama knew that the Mississippi State Fair would be the perfect surprise for me.
Within minutes we had parked and were waiting in line at the ticket booth. I was happily surprised again when the person I saw handing out tickets was my Nana, Billie Jane Davis.
She also laughed at my excitement, and smiled as she passed a book of shiny gold tickets to me though the window, and told me "Be good and have fun with your Mama today."
At first I was speechless as we entered the gates to the fairgrounds. It was much much bigger than my little eyes could have imagined. Before me stood a huge Merry-Go-Round with life-sized horses, lions, and tigers to ride on. There were rows and rows of game stalls with brightly colored stuffed animals and inflatable toys shaped like lollipops. And then there was the food. Every kind of food you could imagine was being sold at random trucks between the rides and the games. (The smell of cotton candy, funnel cakes, and chicken on a stick still makes my mouth water to this day.)
The rides will always be my favorite part of any fair I go to. On that day I rode a miniature roller coaster shaped like a dragon, the spinning tea cups, miniature airplanes, and the merry-go-round, waving wildly at Mama as I went by. All of these things were so much fun as a child, but the most precious part of this memory for me is when I got to ride with Mama. We found a set of giant spinning strawberries that were big enough for adults to ride. The line was short so Mama decided to get on with me. Oh, what fun we had that day, spinning and spinning and whirling around in circles. I remember feeling silly and dizzy as my hands whirled weightlessly in the air. Mama was having a great time too, smiling and laughing with her eyes closed as we spun, trying to keep herself from getting dizzy.
"That was so much fun!" I remember saying to Mama, as we climbed out. She told me that we had just enough time left for one more ride, and took my hand as she led the way to the giant Ferris Wheel.
It was so much bigger to see in person as we waited in line. In my eyes, I thought the riders could reach out and touch the clouds from their red and blue cars. Mama handed in our last two tickets, and we climbed aboard a car by ourselves. Once we were locked in, the ride started to move, and I immediately planted my face against the glass window, trying to see how high we were. The cars moved slowly but soon began to speed up, and we were going up, up, up, until Mama and I stopped at the very top of the wheel.
By this time the sun was setting, and some lights were flickering on in the Fairgrounds below. I could see the cars on the interstate whizzing by, and all the people on the ground below looked so much smaller as they walked around carrying their prizes and food.
"I bet this is what it feels like in a spaceship, Mama," I said to her as I continued to gaze out at the sky and the people below.
"I'm sure it is," Mama said as she pulled me back into a sitting position for the 12th time.
Slowly our car descended back down to earth again, and it was time to get off. We made our way down the exit ramp and headed toward the Fair entrance, where our car was parked.
I squeezed Mama's hand as I told her, "Thank you Mama for my surprise. I had so much fun."
Mama smiled and squeezed back as she said, "I'm glad you had fun. Maybe we will come back again next year and we can ride some more."
It was well after dark by the time we made it home, and that night I dreamed of eating cotton candy clouds at the fair, and riding roller coasters with Mama.