The Oregon State Fair

I enjoy going to the Oregon State Fair.  It's held in Salem during the last two weeks of August.    Thousands of people also enjoy the fair and will travel great distances to attend. It appeared to me that all these people seemed to all be on the road the same time that I was.   I noticed a sign on Interstate 5 that read "STATE FAIR, NEXT EXIT."   

I turned off the Interstate.

It was Labor Day, the last day of the fair and my wife and I planned to spend our time eating elephant ears and cotton candy.    It was my plan to see the cows, goats and lamas and I also wanted to be present when the winning ticket for the Kiwanis Doernbecher Mustang was drawn.

I am on the Board of Directors for the Kiwanis Doernbecher Children's Cancer program.
Each year the Kiwanis Clubs in our state get together to purchase a unique vehicle to raffle off for Doernbecher Children's Hospital.  We draw the winning ticket at the Oregon State Fair on Labor Day.   This was one event that I most certainly did not want to miss.

I followed the signs to the Fair. 

I could see the fair.  I could see the bungee tower peeking out over a sea of parked cars…but where could I park?  Parking was free, but "free" has little meaning if there aren't any parking places. 

I drove some more…  Finally out of desperation I spotted an empty lot with a "Parking $5.00" sign.    I opened my wallet and handed a five dollar bill to a bored teen wearing a money apron.   

My wife and I then walked to the fair. 

We walked through the main gate, and were immediate assailed by odors and sound; we were surrounded by an ambiance that can only be found at fairs.  I saw a heavy lady sitting on a vibrating chair, a red faced child eating a dripping cherry shaved ice, a mother pushing twins in a matching double baby stroller.  We could hear the clicking of the over head cable as suspended people road the "fair lift;" all the while strains of music drifted out to us from a far off bandstand.

"Let's go see the cows, chickens and goats." I said as I grabbed my wife's hand and headed towards the animal barns.  We saw cows and chickens, and horses, and goats and ducks, and emus, and alpacas, and lamas…  We looked at animals and exhibits until our excitement started to wane, and things started to blur together.     I whined to my wife about my sore feet.   I glanced at my watch; it was after 5:00 PM. 

"When do they draw the tickets for our Kiwanis Doernbecher Mustang?"  I asked.

"I think it is either at 5:30 or 6:30" answered my wife.

We headed toward the main concourse.  We found the Red Doernbecher Mustang sitting under an awning.  Behind it was a backdrop picture of Dolly Doernbecher.  Dolly is a Raggedy Ann type doll with a crooked smile on her face and a lettered sign stating "Doernbecher KDCCP.  (KDCCP stand for Kiwanis Doernbecher Children's Cancer Program).    In front was a table with several Kiwanians from the Salem Club selling Raffle Tickets.

"Only two dollars" said one. "Two dollars and it all goes to the kids at Doernbecher….Two dollars to help a child."

I heard another say "You can't lose.  Even if you don't win the car, you're still a winner. You're helping the kids at Doernbecher." 

People were buying tickets.  A middle aged woman in a print dress stated that she always bought tickets at the fair. "My daughter was a Doernbecher patient, and she's alive today because of the treatment that she got there. They never asked us if we had any money either. They just wanted to help."

A man in a brown shirt bought a $20 book of tickets. He smiled and said "God Bless You."

Amanda was 15, going on 16 and a Doernbecher out patient.  Her head was covered with a knit stocking cap.  She had just undergone 15 chemo and 5 radiation treatments, and was looking forward to another 28 chemo and 17 radiation sessions.  She had already enough treatments to cause her to lose her hair, hence the stocking cap.    Some months ago, Amanda had what she thought was a small cyst in her nose.  The "cyst" (after a biopsy) was found to be Rhabdomyo Scarcoma, a particularly virulent cancer.  The Doernbecher doctors removed the cancer and then prescribed a grueling series of chemo and radiation sessions to insure that the cancer would hopefully never return.

She came with three of her friends for support.  The girls laughed and joked and posed for pictures.  Amanda was there to represent the Hospital and draw the winning raffle ticket. 

"It's 6:45," said Kiwanian Bob Clemens. "It's time to draw."

All remaining tickets were placed in a wood and glass canister mounted on a rotating axle. The canister was forced to spin mixing the tickets.  Once the spinning stopped, a small door on the side was opened and Amanda reached in and pulled out a ticket with a person's name on it.

"We have a winner!" announced Bob Clemens. 

Shirley Clemens (wife of Bob and a Kiwanis Doernbecher board member) took the ticket, and immediately telephoned the winner. 

"Mr. Massett?  Mr. Donn Massett?  Congratulations; I am calling from the Oregon State Fair. You have just won the Doernbecher Mustang.  No, I am not kidding, this is not a joke, you've really won." 
Shirley asked him where he purchased his ticket and if he knew from whom.  He answered saying that he purchased his tickets from an old school friend, Bob Collison.

"You did?" gushed Shirley.  "Why he's right here, would you like to talk to him?"

It turned out that Donn was a good friend of Bob.  They have been friends since Jr. High School.   Donn had purchased tickets at several auto shows.  According to his friend Bob, he was not so much a fan of Fords as he was of Doernbecher and had purchased over $500 in tickets.   

"Isn't this wonderful," said I to my wife.  "He was a double winner.  He not only invested in a car, but he also invested in a lot of kids at Doernbecher."   

I looked at my wife and quietly said: "Before we go home, let's get some elephant ears, and some coffee.

I walked up to a booth selling elephant ears.  The people appeared to be both hot and tired.  I smiled at the lady.  "Hey, the fair is almost over.  I hope you've had a great time of it.  I need two elephant ears and two coffees"

She immediately smiled and responded with a "You bet. We have been really busy.  All we have left is cinnamon and sugar.  Would that be O.K?"

"Absolutely," said I.  "That's what I wanted anyway.   Besides I need my four food groups."

"Four food groups?"  she asked

"Sure.  Salt, sugar, fat, and caffeine…"

We all laughed as she helped me get my order

I felt good as my wife and I walked towards the fair exit.  It was starting to get dark.  We pushed trough a turnstile and we headed toward our car. 

I really do enjoy going to the fair.


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