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There’s a song stuck in my head. Been there all week, but at least it’s one I like. Amarillo by Morning is the first song my husband and I danced to, but I wouldn’t expect him to remember that. Those kinds of memories are a woman deal, but I liked the song before that, and still do. I suppose I’m hearing it again in my head partly because it was played at my granddaughter’s wedding dance recently, and partly because it’s county fair time.

When the sun is high in that Texas sky, I’ll be buckin’ at the county fair…”

I’ll be lookin’ for eight when they pull that gate...”

One of my grandsons is a bareback bronc rider and, although my heart is in my mouth when they pull that gate, just as it was when his dad used to enter that event, we attended three county fairs last weekend to watch him ride.

We wondered whether county fairs would happen this year; still, the Sandhills pretty much made it work, with some modifications. It was strange not to watch our neighbor youngsters show their animals in Box Butte County, but at Valentine the Cherry County Fair looked pretty normal, even to a carnival on the grounds. I almost succumbed to my addiction to funnel cakes, but ten bucks seemed too steep in a year when money is so tight.

Attendance was good, considering the kind of situation we’re in, and social distancing in the grandstand was followed pretty well. The same was true at the other rodeos. No carnival at Arthur, but a barbecue was served in accordance with recommendations.  Supper and a rodeo for ten bucks apiece was quite affordable, and made up for missing that funnel cake. (Ah, but I can still almost taste it!)

Spencer took home some money from Valentine, had a good ride at Arthur, but missed marking out. Hyannis gave him a re-ride after the first horse fell with him. As we left the rodeo, I watched a lot of money going down the road in the form of big diesel pickups and horse trailers with living quarters. Those would be ropers; rough stock riders sing a different song.

Amarillo by morning, up from San Antone

Everything that I’ve got is just what I’ve got on.

I ain’t rich, but Lord, I’m free

Amarillo by morning, Amarillo’s where I’ll be.”

Between the pandemic and surgery on an ankle he hurt in wrestling, my grandson has had a shortened rodeo season, so it’s uncertain if he’ll qualify for Mid-States finals like last year. The football coach just shakes his head and tells Spencer to make it to the pickup man, knowing that at seventeen, the kid is determined to taste it all. Spencer assures me that the horses haven’t hurt him, but football and wrestling sure have.  Worry is part of a granny’s job description, and I’m on edge for his brother during football too, but happy that Deacon chooses basketball instead of wrestling and rodeo. 

We have friends and relatives in several parts of Texas. I’ve been in Amarillo in the morning, also San Antonio, Lubbock, Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, San Angelo—even, Luckenbach, but not with Willie, Waylon, and the boys. I liked all of Texas that I ever saw, but that’s not a place to visit lately. It’ll likely be a spell before I see any of Texas again, but at fair time I go there a lot in my mind.

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