Who would have thought that we’d be in the first week of October and we WOULDN’T be planning to go to Chiaha or the Coosa Valley Fair?

I know the pandemic disrupted a lot of things this year. I know lots of sporting events were canceled (Praise Jesus we still have SEC football). I know there were lots of events and activities local families were looking forward to, which simply couldn’t take place or had to be held virtually (which just isn’t the same).

But as soon as cooler temperatures hit, I know I wasn’t the only one in Rome who felt a little pang of sadness when they realized we weren’t gonna have Chiaha or the Coosa Valley Fair this year.

Of the many local events Floyd County families enjoy each year, I feel like those two are among the most popular. I know lots of people who made plans months in advance to attend both of those.

Chiaha means fall is finally here for many Rome residents. I know my friends and I always make plans to meet up there, walk around, get some food, enjoy the music and see half of Rome walking around with their families.

Great local artists go back year after year displaying and selling their work. You could count on seeing Lisa Ingram’s pottery, Ryan Smith’s photos, Tom Canada’s woodwork, Jennifer McNeil’s wood flowers, Zelma’s jams and jellies, the DIGS tent with all their unique yard art, Raven Ayer’s beautiful jewelry and a ton of other great stuff to see and buy.

But a big part of Chiaha for me was the food. I’d walk around munching on cheese straws and I’d get in line to buy freshly popped kettle corn right near the entrance. And at some point my friends and I would sit in the food area and share turkey legs, roasted corn, pork rinds and barbecue while listening to the live music up on stage.

And you are bound to see EVERYONE at Chiaha. All of Rome turns up out there, so there are folks you love seeing and even some you don’t wanna see and try to dodge. But that’s because the event has a little something for everyone.

This year there’s a Facebook page where the artists and crafters sell their work and I encourage you to visit the page and support our local artists. But I’m still sad that I can’t walk around from booth to booth, sampling things and seeing half the community strolling around Ridge Ferry Park.

And it’s the same thing with the Coosa Valley Fair. Everyone and their mama goes to the fair every year because no matter who you are and what you like to see and do, there’s something for you at the fair.

People make big plans to meet up at the fair and they walk around and look at the animals, ride the rides, play the games that are rigged so you won’t get but those little stuffed animals, and most importantly they buy the food.

My favorites are the spiral potatoes, chicken on a stick and the roasted corn slathered with butter and then you step to the side table where you can put any kind of seasoning you want on it. I make sure to put the ranch powder and a little of the cayenne pepper on there.

One of my favorite fair activities (which wasn’t there last year) was that sarcastic clown in the water dunk booth. Y’all remember him? I remember his dunk booth being all the way at the back past the rides. He’d sit there on that little chair above the water just ROASTING people ... even kids. He’d ridicule EVERYONE equally. No one was safe. It was good for business because he’d get people riled up and they’d pay anything for the chance to dunk him.

Events like Chiaha and the Coosa Valley Fair brought people together from all over the county and beyond.

And while we can’t enjoy those this year, there are other events we can still get excited about.

This coming weekend is Fiddlin’ Fest. It’s a great event that brings talented musicians to Broad Street. It’s a big street festival that runs from noon to 5 p.m. and will feature live music on two stages. There will also be vendors and a car show.

The event will always have a special place in my heart for two reasons. As many people know, I moved to Rome from Kentucky and I simply love Bluegrass music and its history. In addition to that, a few years ago, my friends Josh and Nikki got married on a rooftop above Broad Street while Fiddlin’ Fest was going on down below.

So even though we can’t go to Chiaha or the fair this year, let’s look for other things to get excited about. This is my favorite time of year and I hope you and your family have a fantastic fall.

Severo Avila is Features Editor for the Rome News-Tribune.

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