There are few things more traditional and reminiscent of summer than a fair! Whether a city, county, or state celebration, a fair is a time to sample distinct foods and activities that seniors of all ages will fondly remember. Bring a bit of the fair atmosphere into your monthly activities in June with these ideas:
WORLD’S FAIRS – Reminisce about the World’s Fairs that group members have attended including the Chicago World’s Fair of 1933-34, the New York World’s Fair of 1939-40, the Golden Gate International Exposition (1939-40), the Seattle World’s Fair of 1962, the New York World’s Fair of 1964-65, and Montreal’s Expo 67. To start the conversation, watch a video of people recalling World Fairs held in America (http://www.worldsfairusa.com/). Ask people to share what they remember about the exhibits at the fair.
LANDMARKS – The World’s Fair stage was the birthplace of many famous landmarks. Talk about each of these with your group: Eiffel Tower (Paris 1889), the Ferris Wheel (Chicago 1893), the Golden Gate Bridge (San Francisco 1939), the Space Needle (Seattle 1962), and the Unisphere (New York 1964). Share photos of these famous landmarks and a bit of the history on how each was designed, built, and then enjoyed at the Fair.
FARM APPRECIATION – County fairs are showcases for local farmers. Plan a trip to a local farm to take a tour and chat with the farmer about how the profession has changed over the years. You could also go to a farm where you can ‘pick-your-own’ veggies or fruit. Or, ask a farm family to come to your facility and talk about life on the farm. Ask them to talk about their participation in local county fairs.
HOMEMADE GOODIES – Try your hand at making some county fair prize-winning favorites. Pour heavy cream in a jar and take turns shaking it until it turns into butter; or smash fresh strawberries to turn into jam. Search for a no-cook jam recipe on the internet. You can also pick up some vegetables at the Farmer’s Market to pickle. Cucumbers are a wonderful pickling choice, but many from your group may remember pickling watermelon rinds, green beans, and other vegetables as well. Make a pie in your cooking group. Some of your group members could probably give some tips on how to make a good pie crust from scratch.
REMEMBER 4-H – For many kids, the fair gives a chance to show off their 4-H projects. Reminisce with your participants about the 4-H club and what projects they submitted to the local fair. Talk about how they worked on their project and if they remember any specific parts of the judging process, or if they remember receiving a prize for their efforts.Invite a local 4-H club to visit your facility and show some of their projects.
MOVIE MATINEE – Watch the Rogers and Hammerstein classic State Fair and serve popcorn, peanuts, or cotton candy. Encourage everyone to sing along with songs like “It’s a Grand Night for Singing” and “It Might As Well Be Spring.” Or, enjoy a sing-along with the soundtrack recording at the end of the month. You can also play the soundtrack throughout the month at different events such as exercise or socials. As another movie option, watch the Judy Garland film Meet Me in St. Louis.
A BIT OF AMUSEMENT – Rides like the carousel, Tilt-a-Whirl, Ferris wheel, bumper cars, slides, teacups, fun house, and roller coaster are popular fair attractions. Reminisce about favorite childhood fair amusement rides and see how many your group members have experienced.
FAIR FOOD – What is everyone’s favorite fair food – cotton candy, popcorn, corn dogs, soft ice cream, funnel cake? Reminisce about the mouth-watering foods that make the fair so much fun. Invite some children to your facility to enjoy some fair food. Here’s one they could help make: Put a small fistful of cotton candy in a glass and pour sparkling water over the sugary treat. Serve with crazy straws. You could also host a fair-themed meal, complete with other fair favorites like turkey legs, ice cream cones, caramel apples, curly fries, soft pretzels, pigs in a blanket, and apple pie. Invite family members to attend as well, and consider hosting fair games under a brightly colored tent in the courtyard.
THE FARMER KNOWS – Farmers, and even city dwellers, relied on the Farmer’s Almanac for planning purposes. Ask about how participants have used the Farmer’s Almanac and how reliable the predictions were. Find a copy of this year’s almanac and read some of the predictions and other information in the book. Ask group members to sift through the recommendations as you use plan possible events at your community in the months ahead.
MIDWAY GAMES – Play popular fair games during your exercise groups or socials, or plan a fair event at your facility. Consider including Bozo Buckets, Ring Toss, or Choose a Duck. Offer some simple prizes for the winners. Or, pass out tickets to participants at each game and have an auction for items where participants bid on items with the tickets they won playing fair games. Choose items that are particularly popular, such as favorite candy treats or money to use towards an activity or outing.
FAIR MUSIC – Invite a Barbershop Quartet to perform for your community, or listen to fair music that features the calliope, a fair favorite. Sing the old favorite “Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis.” For a fun take on the Barbershop Quartet idea, have a competition between quartets made up of staff members. Seniors will select the winning group.
A FAIR TO REMEMBER TRIVIA
- Which city introduced the Ferris wheel during the World’s Fair? Chicago
- A tradition at the Illinois State Fair (and others) is for an artist to make a cow sculpture out of what dairy substance? Butter
- What fair treat is made of deep fried dough that is sprinkled with powdered sugar? Funnel cake
- What is another name for the carousel? Merry-Go-Round
- Many state fairs feature a petting zoo full of baby farm animals. Name three animals that may be included in a petting zoo. Lamb, calf, rabbit, chicken, piglet, goat
- Which Audrey Hepburn movie featured the song “I Could Have Danced All Night”? My Fair Lady
- What fictional farmer did Frank Sinatra reference in his song about a pretty girl, e-i-e-i-o? Old MacDonald
- Which Perry Como classic includes the lyrics “a goose got loose at the county fair”? “Love Makes the World Go Round”
- Cotton candy is made of what sweet substance? Sugar
- What are the four words that begin with the letter “H” in the 4-H logo? Heart, hands, head, health
A FAIR TO REMEMBER THOUGHT FOR THE MONTH
“The county fair is a bright balloon, carried on a string. An ice cream cone and popcorn stand, a many-splendored thing.” ~ Laurie Dawson
“A Fair to Remember” was written by Haley Burress and Beckie Karras. Copyright 2017 ElderSong Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.
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