THE DAY began with a parade. The block-long procession, led by an honor guard from Cub Scout Packs 678 and 714, marched from Phelps Luck Elementary School down High Tor Hill to Tamar Drive, and into the village center parking lot.
The 20th Long Reach Country Fair -- kicked off by the parade -- drew a large crowd Saturday to the village center.
Visitors soaked in the sunshine, enjoyed music and games, bought crafts and sampled food.
The weather was perfect, as usual. No one could recall a time when conditions were not ideal on the first Saturday after Labor Day, the traditional date for the fair.
"You can plan your wedding for the day of the country fair," said Janet Nuse, who was serving up beer at a village concession.
Nuse has volunteered at every fair since her family moved to the village in 1980. Her husband, Ken, remembers driving the Oriole Bird in his pickup truck during the 1981 country fair parade.
Behind the flags and troop banners at the head of Saturday's parade, about 40 Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Brownies and Cub Scouts formed a loose confederacy. Girls in Troop 319 tossed packages of gum to spectators along the route. The Howard County Police Department provided a second honor guard. Under the command of Sgt. Mark Joyce, four officers escorted Pfc. Lisa Meyers, the grand marshal, who sat on the back of a red convertible owned by Jennifer Dagenais, daughter of Henry Dagenais, the village board chairman.
Del. Frank S. Turner hitched a ride in Al Prince's "Barney Car" -- a customized purple 1957 Ford sedan with a replica of the popular television dinosaur looking out through the rear window.
Prince, a security guard for Columbia Management (and a retired state trooper), patrols Long Reach Village Center.
Then came members of the Sierra Woods Homework Club -- China Lewis, Clifton Culmer, Rodkisha and Rodchell Thompson, and Ashley Fields -- in club coordinator Debra Tolson's car.
The compact car was decorated bumper-to-bumper with crepe paper streamers and bows.
Next was a cluster of bicyclists in red country fair T-shirts. They were led by Paul Grauman and his stepdaughter, Emily Carr, 11, on a rumbling Harley Davidson Electra-Glide Classic motorcycle.
The Riling, Carroll and Wheatley-Heckman families made up nearly half of the bicycle brigade. Walking alongside, mother Debbie Carroll helped the tricycle and training-wheel set up the steep hill at Eaglebeak Row at the intersection of High Tor.
Long Reach Village Board members Dagenais, Frank Corwin and Victor Bailey rode with McGruff the Crime Dog (state probation officer Joe Parks in costume).
The board members sat on a wooden picnic table on a flatbed trailer, towed by a Columbia Association tractor. Reed Folger, Columbia Association land maintenance specialist, drove the tractor.
The trailer was decorated with potted plants and bales of hay.
Lights flashing, an ambulance from Long Reach Fire and Rescue Station 9 brought up the rear.
Firefighter paramedic Tony Concha and master firefighter paramedic Ryan Miller played a squeaking, squawking siren-symphony for the curbside audience.
In the village center, craft vendors lined the sidewalks. Food stands filled the corners and bright red game booths were nestled along the sides of the main entrance to the center courtyard.
Kathryn Mann, assistant village administrator, and her husband, Joe, worked the Big Six Wheel for most of the day. The game gives players a chance to double or triple a quarter bet on the spin of a large wheel.
"One young lady won 75 cents and was more excited than anybody I've ever seen," said Kathryn Mann. "She bounced off like she was on a pogo stick to tell her friends."
Other games, such as the goldfish toss (using rubber goldfish), milk-bottle throw, dart toss and basketball toss, were 50 cents a try, with prizes for every skill level.
"Nobody went away empty-handed," said Sarah Uphouse, village administrator.
On the lawn next to Jack's -- a new family restaurant -- the youngest children were winning in the table-top games: duck pond, treasure hunt and grab-bag.
Nearby, pony rides let little cowpokes pretend they were riding the range.
Outside Stonehouse -- the Long Reach Community Center -- bands played. Long Reach's Joe Carta and the Cruisers got the crowd dancing to pop and rock classics.
Jay Smar followed with banjo-picking bluegrass, and Renegade finished the afternoon with country favorites.
To Uphouse, her staff and village board members, this fair celebrated two years of efforts to make the village a more comfortable place to live.
Meyers was selected unanimously by the village board's parade committee as grand marshal for her contributions to that cause.
As community officer, she is stationed at the police satellite office in the village center.
Meyers earned the community's appreciation for her work in the state-funded HotSpot program. She has brought neighbors, businesses and educators together to resolve community concerns.