By Kit Whited
Many folks have attended the Common Ground Country Fair for years and years. Those of us who are repeat enthusiasts tend to schedule vacations or family gatherings around the dates of the Fair. I have attended ever since it was held in Litchfield. This year the Fair held special significance for me, however, because Friday the 24th was my son Gabriel’s 17th birthday.
Back in 1982, being a die-hard Fair attendee, I couldn’t see letting a little thing like having a baby stop me from going to the Fair. Somehow I arranged to borrow a wheelchair and managed to convince my husband that we had to go. Of course he thought I was totally nuts. I remember the wheelchair ride was not very comfortable and after a while I opted to be parked, wrapped in an extra blanket with a tiny baby in my arms, in a place where I could drink in as many of the sights, sounds and smells as possible. I realized that I didn’t have to see every single thing at the Fair. What I wanted was to be saturated by the energy that occurs naturally when the Fair happens, and I wanted my son to get a good dose of it too!
The result of that spark of insanity has been twofold for Gabe. One is that because his birthday was always right around the Fair, his birthday has taken a back seat to Fair events. The other is that he has attended every Fair since his birth and began volunteering at about age nine.
Sometimes in conversation with others at the Fair, the phenomenon of “The Fair Baby” would surface. I know there are others who have attended the Fair all their lives, but I have yet to meet another person that was born on a Fair date and has attended since birth.
I always thought that it would be fun to do something special for Gabe’s birthday to make up for all the ones we missed. This year seemed to be particularly special since it was the anniversary date of his birth. I spoke with Kim in the Common Kitchen, and she agreed to bake a cake. I ordered a special blue ribbon that said “Common Ground Country Fair Fair Baby 1999.” We would announce his birthday and sing the birthday song after dinner at the Common Kitchen. My birthday surprise was set.
Well, even the best laid plans go awry, and wouldn’t you know, my teenager didn’t show up for dinner. We did get to sing Happy Birthday to him the next evening, however, and I presented him with his blue ribbon, which he wore right on the front of his volunteer shirt.