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GUEST COLUMNIST: The Coosa Valley Fair: You’re never too old for that

Pam Terrell Walker

Pam Terrell Walker, a native of Rome, is a paralegal at Vaughn and Clements in Calhoun. In her spare time she happily rides her bike on the campus of Berry College. Readers may email her at pamtwalker@gmail.com.

Fall’s finest festival

Sponsored by the Exchange Club of Rome since 1949, “Fall’s Finest Festival” celebrates the agricultural tradition of the South. The dazzling lights of the Coosa Valley Fair’s midway attracts visitors from the area with time-honored fun for all ages. It features rides, beauty pageants, chain saw carvings and food vendors.

Stroll through the village. There will be arts, crafts and antiques among other things. Don’t forget the competitions, many of which are held in the Village building. The fall flower show features several categories, including best pumpkin.

Going to the fair every year

Daddy took me to the fair on Kid’s Night. All my friends were there with their parents and we went on all the rides together. One of the more crazy rides, or so I thought, was a roller coaster called “the Mad Mouse.” Daddy and I would ride it and when it was nearly at the top of the first hill, he’d say, “… this ride will turn you every which way but loose!”

When we were teenagers

An area high school marching band performed every night in the special events arena at 6 p.m. Everybody from our school would go to the fair on the night our school’s band performed. After the performance, we rode all the rides together, and went through all the exhibits. We just wanted to run around with our friends. We were home by 9 p.m. It was a school night.

Great memories

Mama’s birthday was Sept. 30. She would have been 96 years of age this year. One of my favorite memories of her is at the fair when I convinced her to ride the Ferris wheel with me. Terrified of heights, she reluctantly agreed. We got on the ride, they put the safety bar in place and off we went. It was a clear, beautiful evening, just after sunset. We reached the top of the wheel and I excitedly said, “Mama look! You can just see everywhere from up here. Look at the lights of the fair!” I thought it was great. Mama did not. She closed her eyes as soon as we started moving. She did not open her eyes until we stopped. They moved the safety bar and we got off the ride. A little shaken, Mama said, “Let’s go get something to eat.” Ah, yes. That great food at the fair. So much to choose from. Corndogs. Pizza. Hamburgers. Funnel cakes. Cotton candy. Caramel (or candy) apples. Mmm-mmmm. Mama knew what she was doing. Ride all the rides you want to ride… before you eat!

Music at the fair

Always it seemed there was a newly released song I heard for the first time at the fair. The year was 1967. “Soul Man.” Sam and Dave’s biggest hit and best-remembered song was a new release. I still think of the Coosa Valley Fair every time I hear it.

The Palladium

It is very fitting that in later years the Palladium, an event facility, was built at the Coosa Valley Fair Fairgrounds. More than one generation of Romans returned to the fairgrounds — to the Palladium — for a high school class reunion.

These days my children are grown and out of the house and my grandchildren are too young to go to the fair. But I will be at the fair again this year, with my friends, having fun. In fact, Kid’s Day and Senior Citizen’s Day are both on Thursday. Indeed. You are never too old to meet your friends at the fair.

Native Roman Pam Walker is a paralegal, a history enthusiast, and an avid reader of Southern fiction. Readers may email her at pamtwalker@gmail.com.