Saturday, 13 September 2008

The Old Settlers Reunion Gets Rained Out

Okay, just to reassure what few people who read this blog, I have not disappeared from the face of the earth. Nor have I been seriously ill, suffered a psychotic break, or been kidnapped by aliens or fairies. Instead my job is entering its peak season. That means long, busy hours spent in front of a PC at work. I really don't care too much for sitting in front of a PC at home afterwards.

Anyhow, this was the weekend of the Old Settlers Reunion and Fall Fair, a three day festival held every year here in Randolph County. This was the 120th one. It was originally created to honour the settlers of Randolph and Macon Counties. And while it has become a Randolph County tradition held here in the county seat of Huntsville, that first Old Settlers was held in Macon. Back then the site of the fair was rotated from town to town with each year. Many of the early reunions were held in Jacksonville (in Randolph County), I suppose because it is the town in Randolph closest to Macon County. Starting in 1896 it would be held several years in a row here in Huntsville. I believe it was held in Moberly in 1901, although it would return to Huntsville in 1902 where it has been ever since. Of course, at some point early in its history Macon County dropped out of the Old Settlers Reunion.

It received its current name, "The Old Settlers Reunion and Fall Fair" sometime in the Thirties. It was in that decade that Randolph County held its first summer fair. After only a few years the summer fair was combined with the Old Settlers Reunion to become the Old Settlers Reunion and Fall Fair.

Now everyone seems to agree that the Old Settlers Reunion is not as big as it once was. I know it is not as big an event as when I growing up. When I was growing up there would be booths and games operated by the various organisations in the county and the senior class from the high school. There seemed to be more events and we usually had a carnival. And from what I understood from my mother and father, it was even bigger when they were young.

Regardless, The Old Settlers Reunion and Fall Fair is still one of the big events of the county, particularly in Huntsville. Sadly, this year it was a washout. The rains started Thursday morning. Fortunately, many of the events Thursday night (such as the queen contest) were not such that would be affected by the rain. Unfortunately, the rains would be much worse on Friday and Friday night, when many of the outdoor events take place. I believe they were cancelled. Today the rains were even worse, again when many of the events take place outside. I believe they were cancelled as well. I know the big event of the Old Settlers Reunion, the parade, was cancelled. Fortunately, they did hold the talent show.

Anyhow, like many Huntsvillians I did not get to enjoy this Old Settlers Reunion. I did go to the Historical Society's silent reunion and picked up a Huntsville Indians cap. But that was the extent of my Old Settlers experience this year. Personally this saddens me as I am sure it did many others. There is something to be said for traditions that are held year in and year out, just as there is something to be said for festivals that are held the same time each year. Traditions connect us to our history, to our roots, to our ancestors. They give us a sense of belonging to a part of something bigger than ourselves. As to yearly festivals, I believe everyone needs those few days when they can simply enjoy themselves, when they can play games, shop at booths, and listen to performers. Particularly as much as Americans work today, we need a break once a while. The rain of the past three days has then done much more than flood roads and sidewalks. It disrupted a tradition and disappointed a good many people.

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