Thursday, January 17, 2008

The greatest show in Manatee County

I’ll show them – I’m going to run away with the circus…

Do kids still dream this stuff? I found myself wondering as I listened last night to Gordon Dole welcome Manatee County’s VIPs during the official launch of our 2008 County Fair.

He was recalling the buildup, in his childhood growing up here, to Ringling’s Barnum & Bailey extravaganza each year in Sarasota. He used it in a great recognition of the fairgrounds right outside our tent:

Who needs the circus? We have the Greatest Show in Manatee County, in the heart of Palmetto, for the next two weeks, he reminded us.

Fairs and circuses aren’t all warm and fuzzy, mind you. Plunging roller coasters, skyscraper ferris wheels, eery clowns, crazy divers jumping 90 feet into a tub of water... Well, make sure you get your heart ready, whether it’s your regular medication or your buddy’s dare.

The weather? Well, this morning sure felt like Fair time. Anyone who has been in Manatee County for a bit knows that The Fair has a reputation of bringing a northerly round of winter madness into town – rain, cold, blustery kind of stuff.

But our reporters and photographers will be out there every day, sharing the fun with readers and letting you know what’s coming up. We also will highlight, as in many years past, the Blue Ribbon winners. Their photos will appear in the Bradenton Herald’s local section, and here online on's Manatee County Fair page.

OK, back to last night. Each year, a citizen of Manatee County is selected as the year’s Distinguished Citizen. And each year, it’s amazing how the winner exposes the deep roots so many of our citizens have here. Manatee has a proud, proud history.

This year’s winner is no exception. Oscar Marvin "Buster" Griffith, founder of the Griffith Cline Funeral Home, was named Manatee County's 53rd annual Distinguished Citizen of the Year. Columnist/reporter Vin Mannix and photographer Brian Blanco shared the moment with all of you in this front-page story.

So the 2008 Manatee County Fair is officially open. Whaddya say? Let’s all run away to the fair…


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