Call it fall, call it autumn, whatever you call it, this season of the year is one of my favorites.

Perhaps I learned that from my mother, who always loved when the weather began to change, and a touch of fall was in the air.

The slow pace of summer was left behind as school started and the days began to shorten. We were back into our routine and life seemed to have more purpose.

Our schools were so different back then, and classes usually didn’t begin until after Labor Day.

Back then, there was no break until Thanksgiving, when we got two days off from classes.

These days of course, the school calendar is completely different, with classes starting in early August, and a week in September off for fall break.

One of the favorite times of the fall for me growing up was the county fair. The Cherokee County Fair is put on by the American Legion Post 45 in Canton and is dedicated to the Cherokee County men and women who gallantly fought for the defense of our country and who bravely died for our freedoms in all of our wars.

This year’s fair takes place this week Sept. 21-26 at the American Legion Fair Grounds at 160 McClure St. in Canton, where it has been held for more than 90 years.

As a child, when very little to break our routine of life in a small rural town ever happened, the coming of the fair was a big deal.

People from all over the county would come into town to go the fair. The lights, the rides, the smell of cotton candy, and popcorn, the music, and the excitement were all intoxicating to a child.

I loved riding the merry-go-round, picking a duck out of a stream of water to get a prize, and walking among the exhibits.

One of the special aspects of our county fair was the exhibit barns of prize vegetables, canned goods, quilts and handmade items, and livestock. There were entries for best flower arrangements, which my mother sometimes entered.

It seemed like we would see everyone we knew when we went to the fair. Local civic groups like the Lions Club would be busy serving up good food, and there were all kinds of charitable raffles to enter.

As hard as it is to imagine in this day and age, there was even Fair Day from the Cherokee County schools. When I was in high school, all the buses would stop at the fairgrounds on Wednesday afternoon of that week in September to allow students who rode the bus a chance to have some fun.

The tradition of a one-price ticket to ride all the rides on Wednesday started back then, I suppose.

For those who have never been, it is certainly worth a visit, and it is for a good cause.

Another newer tradition is Riverfest Arts and Crafts Festival, the major fundraising event of the Service League of Cherokee County, set for this coming weekend Sept. 25 and 26.

One of the most meaningful experiences of my life is to have been a part of the first Riverfest committee way back 37 years ago, and to be able to help bring this wonderful festival to our community.

Now set on the banks of the Etowah River at Canton’s Etowah Park on Brown Industrial Parkway, Riverfest is a kaleidoscope of arts, crafts, exhibits, food, entertainment, and children’s activities.

Much like the fair, Riverfest signals fall is really here, and offers a great time for a wonderful cause.

All monies raised by the Service League stay right here in Cherokee County and are used to help children in need in our community throughout the year.

Make sure to thank a Service League member when you attend, as they work hard all year, and especially that weekend, to make the event the great success it is. The Service League is the oldest civic organization in our county and was started in 1935 to help others in need.

Last year because of COVID-19 both the Cherokee County Fair and Riverfest were cancelled, so the money raised by these organizations is even more greatly needed in our community.

Autumn is a special time of year, and it makes me happy that it is officially fall, y’all.

Rebecca Johnston is a lifelong Cherokee County resident and former managing editor of The Cherokee Tribune.


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