By Norris Chambers

             I attended my first county fair when I was quite young. Most counties held a fair each fall to show the exceptional accomplishments of the farmers in the area. You could see the largest watermelons, the fanciest tomatoes, the smoothest potatoes, the fattest and prettiest livestock and just about anything else that needed to be exhibited. There was a racetrack where fine race horses and fancy riders ran races periodically for the two or three days the celebration continued. The usual carnival attractions were present. The county fair was a very festive and interesting event and just about everyone in the county attended. There was no admission charge and everyone was welcome.

            My mother and dad led me through the gate and into the big fair grounds. I was impressed by the tall rides and all of the little tent attractions where someone was trying to sell something to the milling guests. One of the first things I noticed was that some of the kids about my age were whirling a long, thin stick with a string attached to the end and something at the end of the string that spun around and made a buzzing noise. I had never seen or heard of anything like this. I soon saw a man with several of the whirlers under one of his arms who was operating one of them with the other arm. As we approached he held one out toward me and said, “Sonny, would you like one of these?”  Of course I did.

            “Thank you!” I exclaimed politely as I took the thin stick from his hand and gave it a test whirl. It made a nice buzzing sound like the ones I had seen. I was happy to acquire the new gadget and I thanked the man again for his generosity.

            “I’m glad you like it,” he said, “but it isn’t exactly a gift. You see, I am selling them for only twenty-five cents. I’m sure your dad will want you to have one!”  I was old enough to understand that he wasn’t giving it to me. My dad was not as fond of the plaything as I was and told the man he guessed we didn’t need it. He told me to give it back to him. I reluctantly handed it back and we continued on our way.

            We continued our exploration of the fair, managing to elbow our way through the huge crowd of sight-seers. About all I was seeing was a forest of legs. At times I was having some trouble following my parents. If I hadn’t known what my dad’s shoes looked like I would have got lost sooner. When I really got lost was when I saw one of the whirlers that someone had lost lying on the ground and I detoured to retrieve it. There wasn’t room to twirl it above my head, but I held it tightly and tried to find the familiar shoes among the multitude of legs. I realized that I was lost and surrounded by a jungle of legs and knees. I decided my best remedy might be to push in one direction until I was free of my leg forest.

            It was a good decision. I soon emerged in some open country where I had room to twirl my twirler and wait for my parents to find me. They finally did and after some chiding about getting lost we finished the fair visit and returned home. I explained that I had found the twirler.

            The next day I demonstrated my new toy to Clifton and he was quite impressed. He said the twirler reminded him of something he saw a few days ago. Some of the big boys had caught a june  bug and tied a string to one of its legs. It was flying around and buzzing like my machine.

We immediately started a june bug hunt.

            We found a nice big one with beautiful colors wandering around just beyond the hog pen. A june bug is a big beetle with bright shining colors on its wings and body. They are not hard to catch and we soon had one for our first try. We carefully tied about six feet of twine to one of the rear legs. Clifton held the other end of the string and released the bug. It quickly flew to the end of the string then began circling Clifton at the end of the string. It made the most beautiful buzzing sound you can imagine. The metallic colors on the body presented a very pleasing view. It was obvious that the buzzing beetle on the end of a string was even a better plaything than the whirler I had found at the county fair. After that discovery we experimented with different lengths of string. We never decided on a specific length. All lengths were great.

            The june bug on a string was a lot of fun. Maybe you ought to find yourself a nice, fat june bug and attach a thin string to one of its back legs. You could have a bundle of fun doing that! Or you could go to a county fair and find yourself a whirler!

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