The county fair is home to such competitions as cattle shows, tractor pulls, demolition derbies, pie auctions, and goat-milking contests. I admit that my sister author Hilda rose victorious when we battled one another last weekend in the goat-milking competition at the Racine County Fair. Oh, the humiliation we authors must suffer in search of publicity for our books. Other than being soundly defeated in the competition, I had a lovely day at the fair.
Our book tent featured an antique drum carder which fairgoers could crank to card wool for bookmark tassels. We also had live music–our own fiddler Matt Lutze, Hilda on penny whistle, and editor Phil Martin on accordion. We saw familiar faces and met new readers as people stopped by to purchase a book or find out more about Plank Road Summer. Even the Fair Royalty visited our booth to add planks to the road we were building.
During every summer of our childhood Hilda and I spent five days at the Racine County Fair. During the weeks prior to the fair we practiced showing our sheep, refinished furniture, sewed clothes, or worked on whatever other 4-H projects were to be entered into competition. In our day, we could hardly take five steps at the fair without seeing someone we knew. The fair was a community celebration, and everyone wanted to be part of it.
In Plank Road Summer this is the spirit we hope to communicate in our depiction of the first Racine County Fair. I confess that after my defeat in the goat-milking contest, I am feeling a bit like the loser of the horse race. But strike up the music– in a true community celebration, no matter who wins or loses, everyone can join in the dance.