Apryl Parkerson
Apryl Parkerson
A resident of Larkspur, Colo., Apryl Parkerson has been coming to he fair for as long as she can remember.

She is an elementary special education teacher in the Douglas County School District where she works collaboratively with general education teachers and parents to provide equitable educational opportunities for students with learning disabilities.  

 Her family rented a cabin in the early 70s that still had an outside toilet.

In 1972, The Family Cabin, as it is known,  was bought by Nelson and Frankie Chisholm along with their six girls, the Chisholm girls, and their spouses.  

It was a two-story cabin with a spiral staircase, lots of bunks and free standing double beds.  It had one shower and one bathroom.  The shower was open at the top which was an open invitation for someone to douse you with ice water while you were showering, Parkerson said.

Her cousin, Gina, was the biggest culprit!  

The Sisters, as they are referred to, had all of the first cousins, eighteen with several wonderful additions through marriages.  

"Many of us first cousins married and had children of our own," Parkerson said. "Several years ago we decided that we had outgrown the cabin and rebuilt.  It was bittersweet as we all had such great memories from the old cabin.  So much so that several of us saved a step from the purple spiral staircase as a memento.  

The family rebuilt a three-story cabin with the customary design of the kitchen and sitting area on the first floor and the second and third floors as sleeping quarters.  

"The difference with our cabin is the number of beds that were built on each floor," she said.

The second floor has 10 double bed bunks and four single bed bunks. The third floor has 10 double bed bunks and 13 single bed bunks.  Each floor has one full bath.  

"When people ask us about our cabin and we tell them the details we sometimes get these looks of disbelief and/or looks that question our honesty or our mental state," Parkerson said. "We have been asked to prove it a couple of times by giving tours of the cabin!  That's our Fair, that's all we have ever known and we love it!"

Parkerson has many childhood memories of the Fair which are centered on being with family.

"I remember David Luke from Greenville coming over to our cabin with his guitar and picking and singing with all of us," she said. "He sang the butterbean song and we all thought that was the best.  We always went to the talent show and the horse races."

 As a very young child, Parkerson remembers going to the cake walk and winning a 1976 Bicentennial cake. 

"Every year we would go to Kosciusko to visit my great Grandma Lea," she said. "At that time I thought it was torture to leave the grounds then but today I am sure glad I went.  I always got a candied apple with my cousin Tammy and loved to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl and the Scrambler!"

This week, Parkerson is still enjoying being with family but she also loves seeing old friends from high school. 
 
She thinks it's great to be able to sit down once a year and pick up right where you left off the year before like no time had passed.  

"We still laugh at the same things we did when we were 16 years old!  You know you have true and life  long friends when you can do that. I am so blessed to have that in my life."

Parkerson attends several events during the Fair especially the Flea Market on Saturday and to her dad's family cabin, the Lea Castle, on Sunday night to listen to the band at Gaston's.  

The back deck of that cabin in made into a make shift dance floor so the Lea clan can show off their signature dance moves! Occasionally you may even hear singing that drowns out the actual singer for the band!  

'The Lea men can sing!" she said. "It is quite the show!  From Sunday on, the event of the day is the horse races.  Several of us sit in the grandstands while others go to Uncle Ed and Aunt Gloria Williamson's cabin on the track.  There is always great food, time to catch up with those Fair neighbors and cheering on the horses."

Sunday lunch has always been a family tradition for Parkerson.

"The Sisters make dressing and vegetables and the rest of us make a variety of dishes to go along.  Each night one Sister's family makes dinner.  Our menu doesn't change  much from year to year, chicken spaghetti, regular spaghetti, hamburgers, etc.  cooking for that many people entails a lot of a pasta!"

 In addition to food traditions, they started another one several years ago called Family Story Night.  It is hosted each year, late night after the band, by Sherry Mars.  

" Her front porch is converted into a stage for the speaker and lawn chairs are placed in from the porch for the audience," Parkerson said. " The Sisters don't attend this event because stories are told that may get you in trouble.  Yes, you can still get in  trouble at any age in this family!  Classic stories like purple hula hoop and rock climbing and new stories by the younger generation like rogue wave and hit and run!  It's one of the best nights of the Fair!"

Parkerson hopes nothing changes about the Fair and that it continues to get better every year.

"As I get older I realize how precious this time is with everyone," she said. "I hope future generations take care of the grounds, continue to honor and grow their family traditions and welcome newcomers so that they will love the Fair as much as we do."