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MEMORIES-GO-ROUND

Morgan Ayers, 6, zips by on a merry-go-round during the York County Fair in 2006. This may be the last year for the annual event.
Morgan Ayers, 6, zips by on a merry-go-round during the York County Fair in 2006. This may be the last year for the annual event.

After 85 years of corn dogs, pig races and Ferris wheel rides, the York County Fair wraps up Sunday. Then the fair as local residents know it will fade into history.

Winthrop University will take over the 15-acre property on Cherry Road, which it purchased for $2.5 million from the American Legion Frank Roach post.

As the fair celebrates its last hurrah, we asked readers to share favorite memories of this local institution. Here are excerpts from what they remember.

My most memorable fair experience was about 22 years ago. Before my husband and I were married, and several months before my father died, we all went to the fair.

We walked around, looked at livestock, went into the exhibit barn to look at all the crafts, flowers, and food that had won ribbons. We were having a great time. You could smell the popcorn, cotton candy, candy apples, everything had a touch of fall in the air.

It had come to that time in the evening that we all decided to play some of the games. We played the game with the bottle and fishing pole. Then we played the game that you place the quarter on the color and throw the ball, and if you're lucky, the ball lands on your color, you win a prize. Keep winning and trade up to a larger prize.

As the night was drawing to a close, I saw this game where there were 30 large teddy bears sitting on the ground and they had large glass platters sitting on their heads. The object was to pitch a dime and have it land on the platter, to win a prize. This looked so easy. We all got change and started pitching our dimes.

The man running the game told us "No leaning." Well, when he turned his back, my husband leaned over to place a dime on one of the platters. He lost his balance and fell in the middle of the 30 teddy bears. Glass platters were falling and breaking, people were laughing, it was hilarious. He was swinging his arms around like an airplane propeller and yelling, "Oh no! Oh, no!" It was a sight to behold.

-- Buffie Garner, Rock Hill

My dad, Jack Hood, worked the Lion's Club booth in the 1960s selling brooms and collecting eyeglass donations. I often went with him. On breaks, we tried our skill at the carnival games.

One year, "the perfect bear" was hanging in a booth as the big prize; pull a string and win a prize. Every part of me wanted that bear. I tried to win it all night.

At the end of the night, I followed Dad dragging my feet. Dad asked, "Why don't you give it one more try?" I mumbled to my shoes, "What's the use? I'm not going to win."

Dad kneeled down and said softly, "The Jackie that I know never gives up. Besides, it's the fair; you never know what might happen." I agreed to one more try. I pulled the string and almost cried as the game vendor belted out, "Congratulations, little girl!" while handing me "the perfect bear."

The crowd applauded and many got in line. I left the fair tired but happy. I remember walking out, hugging the bear and looking up at my dad, carrying the box of eyeglasses, thinking that he was a real, true hero.

-- Jackie McFadden, Rock Hill

Back then didn't all of Rock Hill know when the fair was coming? You can bet I did. This was before World War II, and from year to year I could remember almost everything the fair had to offer.

But the most exciting part of the fair was at closing time, when the fireworks went off, most always before 11 p.m. This is the good part. My family lived on the corner of Poplar Street and West White. They could be seen very well from there.

I was 4, 5 6 years old and was put to bed a good two hours before the fireworks. Do you think I went to sleep? Only I played like it. They went off, splendid and so beautiful. Happy and peaceful and without a grunt, I went to sleep, only to look forward to the next night.

-- Faye Langley Boozer, Rock Hill

What: York County Fair

Where: York County fairgrounds, 155 S. Cherry Road, Rock Hill.

Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. today and 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Cost: Regular admission is $3 ages 14 and older; $2 age 6 to 13; and free for age 6 and younger and seniors 62 and older. Parking is $2. On Sunday, admission and parking are $1 each.

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