Walking into the Heritage Fair each year always turns back the clock for me. Growing up in Old Dundalk, I can remember going to the fair every year since I was five years old.
The excitement I felt when the fair banner went up over Dunmanway, and as the fencing magically appeared around Heritage Park and Dundalk Elementary School, was only equaled by the roar of the fire engines and boom of the fireworks on the Fourth of July itself.
Attending the Heritage Fair is not only my family’s tradition; it's a tradition for the entire community.
Entering Heritage Park this year, there is a feeling of comfort in knowing the fair “standards” will be there: the enormous Stage I, on Shipway, the crowded and joyous carnival section, the arts and crafts vendors, and of course, the incredible food.
However, every year there are small changes made to improve the overall experience. For example this year, I noticed a kettle corn stand that might have to be added to my fair food rotation!
It's not just the attractions though, it's the people.
My wife and I ran into family, both local and those in town just for the fair. We had a conversation with our high school social studies teacher, caught up with old neighbors, and spoke with returning vendors who we have seen and patronized year after year.
My fair traditions usually go like this (and this year was no exception):
- Purchase a ticket, get my hand stamped and look through the program and get the lay of the land
- Purchase snoballs from Stouten's Snoball stand, which sets up shop right on Playfield Street
- Grab dinner in the form of a delicious crab pretzel and cheese fries and find a picnic table to share with friends and family
- Stroll through the arts and crafts area to hunt for early holiday gifts, and catch up with even more friends
- Take a rest on the steps of the Heritage Park gazebo (this year we took a small “tour” of its recent renovations!)
- People-watch, a must do when coming to the Fair
- Listen to the best tribute band ever, The Mahoney Brothers, with hundreds of other Dundalkians
- Buy a fried dough, for our walk home
As most Dundalkians can attest, the Heritage Fair is a special, once-a-year experience like nothing else.
It’s a rush of old memories, and an opportunity to create new ones. The Heritage Fair represents the very best of what our community has to offer: beautiful parks, friendly neighbors, close-knit family – and tradition.