WISE — Every day at the Virginia-Kentucky District Fair & Horse Show is special in its own way, but extra special is reserved for very special people.
Senior Citizens Day at the Wise County Fairgrounds attracts superbly life-experienced folk from surrounding counties and even Kentucky. Most have been around nearly as long as the 95-year-old fair itself, and a few, perhaps as long or longer.
It’s hard to say because while guys are fair game, it’s not polite to ask a lady her age. Unless she happens to be Sissy Davis, a patron of Mountain Empire Older Citizens Inc.’s Respite and Nutrition Site in Pennington Gap.
“I’m 29, honey,” she deadpanned. “In fact, I’ve been 29 three times already.”
Sporting a colorful umbrella hat, 70-year-old Pete Roberson of Coeburn said doctors “punched 30 holes in my heart with a laser and put in two stents while they were at it” and, seeing as how that didn’t finish him off, he decided to escort his elderly aunt to the fair on Thursday.
Actually, Roberson didn’t have any choice.
“She said, ‘Let’s go, boy,’” he said of his Aunt Dine (pronounced Dinah) Mullins. “So here we are. Well, she’s around here somewheres. I lost track of her about as soon as we came through the gate.”
Bodies age, but the mischievous spirit of youth remains in full blossom for most seniors, something 17-year-old Kristen Gibson of Neon, Ky. — soon to begin college at Eastern Kentucky University and a recent graduate of Letcher County Central High School — discovered while accompanying her grandmother, Pina (pronounced Pine-uh) Gibson, to a Letcher County seniors center called the Boone’s Fork Kitchen.
Kristen volunteers at the “Kitchen” and is already wise beyond her years when it comes to the company of seniors.
“It’s fun. They all know me because my Mamaw goes down there (to the “Kitchen”) all the time,” she beamed. “They’re like family. They’re smart, and they’re funny. They’re fun. I love being with them. We couldn’t wait to come over here and have fun together at the fair today.”
Addie Lewis said she’s “been in Norton since ’37” with at least part of her childhood in Stonega, and considers a romp to the fair a sensible excursion.
“Well, I like it fine. Just fine,” she said. “I like to get out every now and again like anybody else does, you know.”
Beth Jenkins, a marketing rep with Cooley Medical in Norton, was on hand to help ensure seniors enjoyed Thursday’s trip to the fair. Turns out they helped lift her spirits in return.
“This is just great. I love meeting so many people. They’re so interesting to talk with,” she said. “Having a day just for them gives them an opportunity to come out and socialize and enjoy themselves, and learn about services and programs available to them without having to worry so much about money or transportation.”
Two days remain for the 95th Va-Ky District Fair & Horse Show. Gates open at 3 p.m. today. Events include a 15-and-under talent competition, a horse pull contest, Motocross Competition, and the Miss Va-Ky District Fair Scholarship Pageant.
Gates open at 9 a.m. for Saturday’s big finale. Baby pageants are Saturday, and a reprise of Kids Day will include one-price rides for $10. The horse show sector of the fair also gallops in the Horse Show Arena on Saturday.
Admission is $6 for everyone 12 and over, just $1 for children 6-11, with all children 5 years or younger admitted free.
For more information visit www.vakyfair.com.