Those are the stats, but those are just numbers and they don't begin to sum up K's experience in the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir (and the miles don't include the week of boot camp before the fair started!).
The AOSFYC choir performed every day of the fair, 4-6 concerts scheduled each day. They started every morning with a couple hours of rehearsal. Then they marched from the dorm to each concert location doing cadences and cheers along the way. In between concerts the choir marched around the fairgrounds and serenaded different vendors, sharing their voices and providing musical fun to fair-goers. The AOSFYC also marched in the daily parade, doing their cadences and singing songs from the Natural Resources area clear back to the north end of the fairgrounds where their dorms are located.
The kids worked incredibly hard each day - and it definitely paid off. We were able to go to the fair 5 or 6 times (I think I had fair french fries for dinner every time - I've had enough till next year ... maybe) and saw them perform more than a dozen times. Here is one of my favorite songs at my favorite venue:
It wasn't all work though. The kids had small pockets of free-time during the day and usually an hour or two in the evening. During these times they rode rides and had their fill of fair food - usually the vendors would see their badges and let them ride for free, or give them discounts on snacks. They got to hang out with their new choir friends and further cement the bonds they were forming.
The final week of the fair had some added activities. They had the Opus Olympics - a night of relay races and games between the Opus groups (an Opus is what they call the smaller groups they divide the 200 kids into on the first day for team-building and activities throughout the entire fair). A Recruit Day was held with about 40 prospective members tagging along with the choir members and performing with them - a great opportunity to help them see if they want to apply for the choir next year. And Alumni Day had hundreds of AOSFYC alumni attending the fair and singing with the 2009 choir.
The conductor, the staff and the CITs added to the whole experience. All are very talented individuals sharing their time, humor, love of music and friendship with the kids.
The last day of the fair arrived and we were excited to get to bring K home with us. But not until after the final concert - the Friendship Finale.
While waiting for the concert to begin, I met some people sitting behind me - the gentleman had been in the choir back in the early 90's and has since moved to Florida, the woman was his mother who lives in Kentucky now. They drove up together just to see the concert. They talked about his experience with the AOSFYC and what it meant to him and what it still means to him today. Listening to their story, I couldn't help but imagine coming back with K in 15-20 years and watching and reliving it with her.
At the Friendship Finale, the 2009 AOSFYC performed together for the last time. Hundreds of people were in attendance. They sang 50 of their songs and received several standing ovations. Many tears were shed during the Finale, by the parents, the kids and the staff. These 200 kids who came together for the first time less than 3 weeks before, along with the CITs and the staff had become a family.
When we brought K home, she reunited with our dog, laid down on her own bed for a minute, and took a shower (alone for the first time in weeks). Then, despite the fact that she was exhausted and it was getting close to midnight, she logged into her FB account and added all 200+ new AOSFYC friends. They have been chatting and sharing pictures and memories online. K is already making plans to attend the reunion in February and looking forward to the fair next year.
Friends for 18 days, family forever.
1 year ago