When I was younger I never thought about growing up and getting old, and I certainly didn't give any thought to the fact that I might grow attached to material things in this world.
As we grow older we have to unfortunately learn to live through many situations thrown upon us in our changing world and environment. From friends moving away after high school and college, to getting married and raising a family, to changes in work venues and even having close friends and acquaintances pass away, we have no choice in moving on through the changes in our lives and in the things around us.
It is a fact of life that everything changes, and we have to "roll with the changes" as the REO Speedwagon song states.
But to this writer, I am having a hard time parting with the grandstand on the North Dakota State Fairgrounds.
Many people that were born and raised in the Magic City and have since moved away have probably gotten over missing Minot and have their new surroundings. But for us that have stayed in our home town, the grandstand was a meeting place for a lot of us that have enjoyed the auto races and the state fair concerts and other activities for many, many years.
It was one of the material things that I was talking about that I was definitely attached to.
My first trip to the grandstand was in the summer of 1965 when I was 7, as my parents took me to the Nodak races for the first time. People that are my age will know and agree that in those days, any trip to a venue like that was a huge moment in your life. With today's modern world being so much more mobile than the old days, people now move about the country and attend sporting events in major cities all the time, some at very young ages.
In fact, I didn't get out of the state and see my first professional game until I was 23 years old. For my generation and the generations before me, going to the Minot Municipal Ball Park (Corbett Field) to see a baseball game, or the grandstand to see the auto races, was about as big as it got.
With my snacks and race program in hand, I will never forget my first trip up the south stairwell under the stands to the upper walk level that gave me my first glimpse of the race track and the race cars.
I was amazed with the atmosphere of the grandstand, with the bright colorful cars racing down the track as they passed the stands and the people that were already in their seats shouting and talking about their favorite drivers.
I was forever hooked at that point as not only a fan of the local races, but also of the building that seemed to be alive with an electric feeling that I still really can't explain to this day.
For the next 16 years after that moment, I was proud to call myself one of the biggest race fans in Minot. I never missed a race for years, and even when my parents stopped going in the late 60s, I rode my bike from northwest Minot, which is now 19th Street Northwest, to see the races and then ride all the way back home after the weekly battle was done.
The grandstand in the distance was always my goal, and after I made it all the way home, I couldn't wait to see my old friend again the next week.
The excitement of being at the races during the state fair as the cars raced on the old half-mile track was unforgettable, as I could watch what was going on at the midway inbetween each race from my top-row perch.
At that time, the stands, which were built to replace the old wood grandstand in 1955, were not quite fifteen years old, and they were still in great shape, standing proudly and visible for miles.
As I got older, I of course also began going to concerts in the stands. I was in attendance in the mid 80s when Huey Lewis packed the house, and was also lucky enough to get to climb a rope ladder way above the stage to run a spotlight for Loverboy in the days when that job had to be done manually.
I can't even begin to list all the shows that I have seen there, because my Sports Editor, Mike Linnell, will already think that this column is too long. But the list included Head East, Def Leppard, Joan Jett, the Beach Boys, REO Speedwagon, Survivor, Nickelback, Eddie Money, 3 Doors Down, and many more.
My job at the fairgrounds from 1975 until 1982 also gave me time to help with a little maintenance of the structure. I worked on the cleaning crew during the fair under Gordy Johnson when we used to have to clean it twice a day when there used to be afternoon and night shows at the stands.
The fair crew I was on in 1981 had to strip off all of the wood benches and back rests off of the bleachers and stands, and then replace them with the new aluminum benches and back rests that the demolition crew just stripped off earlier this month.
The grandstand no longer was a place to watch races and see concerts, but it became a material friend that meant so much to me in my life.
Now, in August 2009, my old friend was dismantled and torn to the ground, in preparation of new stands that will be ready for the 2010 State Fair.
As the stands were being torn down the last couple of weeks, I made sure I went out every day to take sequence pictures of the event. It was nice to hear the foreman tell me that they were having a heck of a time when they first started, as he said that the old stands were fighting back and didn't want to go down easy.
I have been told that the new stands will be state of the art, wrapping all of the way past where both bleachers used to extend to. It will have a huge concourse underneath the stands that will have many areas of concessions and rest rooms.
It will also have great handicap access so people that have disabilities will be able to get up in the stands, where in the past they had only the lower row to sit in.
It will have wireless internet capabilities, and a better sound system than the old one had, which is good for me because I have been one of the announcers at the Nodak Speedway for 12 years now, and I know that we certainly do need a new one.
But the bottom line is it won't be the same. My friend has moved away and will never return.
As my announcing partner Lindsay Lawson and I walked out of the press box at the grandstand this year after announcing the car enduro at the fair, I took a second to say goodbye to the press box after 12 years. Four nights later I made sure I was the last one out of the seating area after the fair-ending fireworks display.
It was not easy to walk out that night, and it was not easy to say goodbye to my old friend.
Larry McFall is a correspondent for The Minot Daily News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.