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A small-town county fair has a way of simplifying things in as many ways as possible

CENTRAL OREGONIAN - Holly McLaneDo you feel like life keeps getting crazier and more complicated by the day? You aren't alone, you know? We're all on this roller coaster ride of a journey together, and not one of us is getting off alive. Eventually, we've all got to face and answer the hard questions about our purpose here and how we treat our fellow sojourners. But, for a few days every summer, we can ignore the ugly news headlines about grown-ups misbehaving and dive headlong into the county fair season with childlike enjoyment. Where kids rule the day, and the most significant decision we need to make is between ordering shaved ice or an elephant ear or both!

A small-town county fair has a way of simplifying things in just about every way possible, especially the Crook County Fair, because, for starters, it's FREE! Well, free to park and come through the gates, that is; what happens to your money at the camel rides or the tilt-a-whirl is entirely your fault. Theoretically, you could leave your wallet at home and be a kid again with no plan and no spending allowance, just you and the sights, sounds, and smells of the livestock barns, battle of the bands and perhaps a picnic lunch.

If your timing is right, you might even pick up some life skills training from the mutton busting contestants that could be helpful once you step back off the fairgrounds property and back into reality. Tips like hold on real tight and everyone needs a cheering section.

This year's fair takes place Aug. 10-13, and the theme is "Country Fun for Everyone." Gates are open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Bring your inner child and tell your friends to do the same. Then, we can all return to our regularly scheduled programming when the last animal leaves the auctioneer's show ring — hopefully bringing with us a renewed sense of what it means to approach life with the heart of a child. Isn't that how we're supposed to live it anyway?

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