We're back from the 169th annual Fryeburg Fair, and boy did we have fun! We have heard that over 300,000 people often attend the fair, and although stats aren't up yet, other vendors tell me they think last week broke all records. I can say for sure that we met a LOT of awesome horse lovers!
[Eleda left, with her mom at the fair]
I am grateful to my mother and all of my friends who helped me run the booth last week. 7am - 9pm made for eight exhausting days, but you all kept me energized! Thank you, Mom, Deb, Julia, Kayla, and Jan, plus all of our collecting friends who came by to visit and wish us a great week!
Our Breyer rep Jan joined me on Friday and Saturday in the booth, and she says she learned a lot about the deeper meaning of Breyer models to their owners, as well as how to choose from between several of the same release by examining their details. She did this herself when she picked out a Buckeye mule to purchase and take home! She also heard from collectors that we'd like the cattle and bulls brought back with nice paint jobs, as well as a line of models for dog collectors - Not companion size, but full size like the old dog molds, as a stand-alone model line representing different breeds.
We enjoyed meeting everyone! There were so many great stories and memories shared by all of you. We heard from people who had passed down their models for three generations and from others who still had them "somewhere in the attic" and now planned to find them and put them on display. One woman told us that as a kid she had planned to run away from home and the first things she put into her backpack were her model horses. These are all testaments to how important they become to us. We consider them "Memory Keepers," as they carry with them memories of special people, places and events, and that was evident in the stories we heard at the fair. It's hard to choose our favorite moments, but these stand out:
A little girl in a stroller was gleefully waving around a plastic "wand" with a winged pony on top, complete with blinking lights... until she saw our booth. We heard, "Horses!" and that wand went flying to the ground as she jumped out of the stroller and ran to us. Her parents, while annoyed that their previous purchase was now forgotten, saw the humor in it as well, and we declared she had come for an upgrade!
A woman told us how she'd gotten to meet Secretariat after being invited to Claiborne Farm by a man working at Kentucky Horse Park. She thought he was joking, but at the appointed time, she went up to the gate, gave her name, and was ushered up the drive. There Secretariat's groom came out leading the big horse for her to see. Then he turned him loose in his paddock, and she says, "He took off like a shot!" That's a memory for a lifetime, right there.
Little Brigit, featured in the image for this article, was given her very first Breyer at the fair by her mom. She picked sparkly Cupcake and immediately fell in love with him. Here are a couple of photos of her around the fair... She refused to put him down even when they did other activities, and I got a text from her mom late that night that she had wanted to take him to bed with her (they compromised by having him sit on her bureau and watch over her).
My favorite moment, though, was when a quadriplegic man was passing by with his parents and signaled them to stop at our booth. I asked if he'd like to see some of the horses closer, since it was hard to see from his seat. I brought out a couple, told him about the horses they were modeled after, and was rewarded by an enthusiastic head shake of appreciation. But then his mother bought him a Spirit blind bag and when she opened it and put that little horse into his hand, his face lit up bright enough to power the whole building! He stared at that little Chica Linda and smiled from ear to ear!
Most of all, spending a week with models at the fair reminded me that sometimes we begin to imagine that everyone in the hobby is "just like us." It's easy to picture people we haven't met as the same age, abilities, and background as we have, but the fair was a wonderful reminder that the power and love of horses transcends all these things. We can't wait to go back next year!