How I wish my grandniece, Mina, were here so I could take her to the Skowhegan State Fair again.

Last year when Mina was 7, my sister Jane and I, accompanied her to the fair.

Mina lives in the French Alps and had never had been to a fair before, so she was excited.

Watching her skip along the midway, enthralled by all the rides, games and glitter, was lots of fun.

We spoiled her. We bought her a pair of pink rabbit ears with battery-operated lights that flashed on and off.

She wore the ears on her head like a headband and looked so beautiful with her dark hair and eyes.

We also got her a necklace and bracelet and just about anything else she wanted, because soon she would be going back to France, and we wanted to go overboard in heaping on the love and affection.

Mina, now 8, is a very smart little girl, and she speaks with a lovely French accent that is so endearing I have saved her voice messages on my telephone answering machine.

She loves the U.S. and I’m sure part of the reason for that is we have the Skowhegan State Fair.

It was a deliriously exciting place for her. She skipped alongside the pens of little ponies and pigs and llamas and exquisite birds perched in the minifarmyard and loved seeing all the dairy cows in their stalls, munching on fragrant hay and chewing their cuds.

We perused the 4-H club exhibits and inspected all the garden vegetables, canned pickles and jams, cookies, cakes, breads and other goodies. We also checked out the photography exhibit.

Mina reminded me to find my friend Karol’s photo of a boat, for which she won a first prize.

We listened to a country music band playing on a stage in a small courtyard, watched the race horses pace around a dusty track and inhaled the great, omnipresent scent of freshly fried dough, French fries and cotton candy.

Mina tried to get us to go on some of those terrifying rides that catapult you into the air, turn you upside down and make you scream, but we would have none of it.

At my age, I couldn’t even find the courage to go on the Ferris wheel, although when I was Mina’s age, I considered the Ferris wheel baby’s play.

I acquiesced and agreed to go on the giant slide with Mina. We climbed what seemed like 100 stairs to the top of the slide where we plopped down on grain sacks, threw our arms in the air and shoved off, flying down, down, down until we landed in a heap on the ground.

Mina persuaded me to do this over and over again until even she tired of it and went on to something else.

We tackled the maze of the glass house. At this, Mina was proficient. She scooted back and forth, always finding the correct turn that would ultimately steer us to the top of the house where we escaped on a winding slide that sent us flying to the ground.

She would not go on the merry-go-round; I don’t know why. That would have been my first choice.

It always was, when I was her age. I also was partial to the Merry Mixer, a ride that went fast and tossed us around like egg beaters; the bumper cars, which made me feel grown up; and, of course, the roller coaster.

As August wends its way forward, the air turns chilly in the evenings and the Skowhegan State Fair arrives, I think of Mina and wish she were here.

I also recall my own childhood, collecting coins in a glass jar all year in anticipation of the fair’s arrival, planning my course of action for when I got there, and dreaming about cotton candy and candied apples.

And finally, blessedly, the day would arrive and we got to march through those big fair gates onto the giant midway.

For one spectacular day a year, we lived in a great whirling fantasy world, all color and magic and sweet treats unlike anything we experienced in our daily lives.

I’m glad the fair has survived all these years and into this electronic age where kids seem to find their thrills by pressing buttons on a gadget.

Maybe they’ll forego that virtual world for a day and visit a real agricultural fair — one that offers thrills of an entirely different kind.

There’s a lot of fun to be had there.

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 25 years. Her column appears here Mondays. She may be reached at [email protected]

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