By: Melody Snow

On Behalf of the Benton County Historical Society

Shhhhhh . . . I found it. . . I tell you it’s there . . . you just have to believe. A land of adventure, mythical powers, and magical moments. There’s no wardrobe to step
through, just a dusty road betwixt two stone fences. Once inside this Narnia-esque kingdom a wooden sign amidst a teeny grove, proudly exclaims . . .

“Welcome To . . .The Benton County Fairgrounds!”

Just as in Narnia, child and beast walk side by side, a pocket full of treats and fingers crossed as they make their way into a nearby arena. Not far away, in barns
laden with straw, rest more children and beasts awaiting their turn to parade down the alleyway. This is where you’ll hear the quiet whispers they share, where beast
understands child; and child, the beast. A year’s worth of sweat and tears in hopes of having a simple blue ribbon to hang on the rail.

Across the way no beast shall enter for it’s filled with tempting tastes from the kitchens, and a barrage of skilled projects that have been honed until mastered. There
too they wait in hopes they’re found by the coveted ribbon. Then on the far edge of the grove a rumble begins that grumbles and growls and groans. Engines are revving out on the dirt track, sounds billowing up, overtaking the night air. Even those who have not yet stepped into this kingdom of Narnia can hear the moans echo for miles around.

Then as the evening sun fades and slips away, the glow of the midway comes alive. The chatter and laughter of the young, the rickety steel gears grinding with the
awakening of the jovial carnival rides, the pings and bells calling out, and the sweet smells of cotton candy along with anything-on-a-stick, meld effortlessly to stamp this particular Narnia forever in our memory.

If you look carefully, little has changed at the county fair in our celebration of rural life for the last hundred years. Children still bring their beloved animals to show, they’ll spend the week sleeping in the barns, dreaming of ribbons, others will vie for a prize on the midway, delight in fair food, court a sweetheart, and steal a kiss in the shadows of the grandstands. The fairgrounds are for reminiscing, as well as making new memories.

Narnias can be found all throughout Benton County whether it’s at the Benton County Fair or elsewhere. Find a Narnia that speaks to you, rekindle your memories
with a glimpse into yesteryear, then pass it on to a child to keep it alive for generations to come. Get involved with the Benton County Historical Society (BCHS), whose goal is to preserve the past and foster an experience of history that sparks a story in our minds. If you would like more information on how you can get involved or become a member of the BCHS please follow us on Facebook, or email bentoncohistorical@gmail.com.

In an effort to keep the public informed, current BCHS projects include a new roof for The Depot, and refurbishing the exterior of the Ray House. Please consider giving.

 

Photo Citation​:
Cedar Valley Daily Times. A Celebration of Our Past; A Pictorial History of Benton
County. Heritage House Publishing, 1996.