For some the county Fair is merely a stop along their summer calendar, as they take in the rides and funnel cake that come with a trip down the midway. For many, the Fair is associated with smiles and laughter.
But for at least a few participating in this year’s Warren County Fair, the event was a symbol of healing.
Prior to Saturday evening’s demolition derby, two people — Tanya Sinclair and Greg Bax — with a history steeped in Fair tradition were recognized by the full-capacity crowd in the grandstands. Unfortunately, that recognition came through a moment of silence, as those honored were represented by the spouses they left behind.
In March, Fair Board member JD Sinclair lost his life in a motorcycle accident. His wife, Tanya, was accompanying him that spring day. Despite suffering serious injuries, Tanya has vowed to fill the void left by her husband’s absence on the Fair Board.
“Taking over JD’s spot was easy, because we’re all family,” said Sinclair. “They have been there for me and my family since Day One.”
The Fair recognized their late member in several ways, most recognizably through the renaming of the music and beer garden pavilion.
“The tributes to JD just show me the amazing impact that he had on this community and makes me so proud of the man he was,” said Sinclair.
Tribute to Marilyn
The moment of silence was also a visual tribute, as 2,000 Fairgoers stood moments after Greg Bax pulled his derby car into the arena. Painted red, white and blue with the number 76 and adorning an American flag, Bax’s car has long been a symbol of freedom at the Fair.
“It’s the Fourth of July and a good celebration,” said Bax. “I’m just supporting my town. Everybody wants me to go to Troy and Wentzville to run, but I say ‘No, I’ve got to run in Warrenton.’
“You’ve got to support your local shows.”
On this night, Bax’s car features some additional artwork — a heart and a tribute to his late wife, Marilyn, who passed away from a heart attack in December.
“I’ve got her name on my car, so she’ll be riding with me tonight,” said Bax.
Marilyn was recognized by the announcer as having been a pivotal part of Bax’s longtime involvement in the Fair.
“That was a very emotional experience,” said Bax, who has been competing in the Warren County Fair Derby for 30 years.
For Sinclair and Bax, this year’s Fair was about more than hot summer nights and trips down the midway. It was part of a healing process, a powerful step toward continuing on without their dedicated spouses.