• Lillie Burke

Fresh eyes, full stomach, new view: The art of “going back”

They say you can never go back.

False. You can physically “go back.” It’s simple. Just use some form of transportation and boom, back.

What they forgot to mention that going back isn’t always the same. Things change, but mostly you do.

It’s a lesson I learned when I went “back” to my hometown’s county fair after avoiding the hordes of stuffed-animal carrying people for several years.

I’ve pretty much grown up with the Wilson County Fair. Literally. The most exciting annual event outside of Christmas and my birthday meant something different to me every year.

Every single year, even with some of the same traditions, the week-long event was slightly different, new and fresh.

Then came high school.

By then, the fair was purely social. Of course we rode rides and ate food that could fill you up just smelling it, but now the annual event was about being seen. No one was there to just have fun.

It was about showing off the hottie you picked up at the Zipper (it’s a ride, I promise), and dressing in impractical clothing for the weather because it looks nice, but who am I kidding. The fair was an obligation.

Because of that, I eventually stopped going. Maybe it was I thought I was too mature for such menial things, or perhaps I got sick of fair food. I really don’t know. Whatever the reason, the fair just wasn’t fun anymore by my senior year.

It’s not like the fair had changed over the years, just me.

Until we at the Vision decided to send Brazilian native Karoline Ihns with a videographer (yours truly) to start a series about an outsider’s view of standard Southern culture, I might have never gone back and been completely okay with it.

Three or four years after my last trip to the fair, I wasn’t expecting much to change. And I was right.

There were the same old rides, just more of them. The same old beauty pageants, just girls winning that I used to baby-sit. The same little fake pioneer town complete with demonstrations.

But for the first time, I was experiencing the fair like an outsider, the byproduct of showing a Brazilian transfer some real Southern culture.

She was excited about everything. No, really. Everything.

From a longhorn bull to the mechanical swings and tiara wearing llama, it was all new and exciting to her and, therefore, to me.

Even the tired old gag of racing pigs was more entertaining because of her. I’ve never seen someone over the age of 10 show so much enthusiasm for a swine called “Piggy Gordon.”

Oh and the food.

We ate and ate and ate some more. Fried Twinkies and Snickers and chocolate covered bacon were all on the menu. The most nutritious thing I ate that night was a corn dog.

I’ll let you know if I recover from my fried food coma anytime in the next two weeks.

It was halfway through my heart attack on a stick – I mean fried Twinkie – that it occurred to me how silly the whole never being able to go back really is.

Here I was. Back. And you know what, sometimes things are better than what you remember.

Perhaps whoever said that just never attempted to “go back” with new eyes. Plus an empty stomach.

Autumn Allison, Vision managing editor, is a junior journalism major.

#AutumnAllison #autumnallisoncolumn #PigRacing #WilsonCountyFair

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