The first weekend at the Illinois State Fair saw us with a good many young people to get us started for a good ten days. The young people came from the Chicago area, from the south-central area of Centralia, from the St Louis area (Collinsville), and as far east as Champaign. These are geographical areas on the Illinois state map that give some indications to where many of our workers came from (including adults).
Our week also started off with an interesting occasion. Amber Nail, one of our female leaders of the youth, was about the make use of the restroom when she saw a frog on the stool. That was it! She was not going in there until it was removed. She is a tough gal, but not tough enough for a frog! We laughed, and she laughed with us.
After the weekend most of the young people left, with the adults filling in doing the work young people did. We were fortunate to have a Disaster Relief representative, Dennis McClintock, with us. His presence within the Exhibit was to facilitate movement toward our work; this also allowed people to inquiry further about Disaster Relief. He was a great contributor. I had to leave on Saturday after the morning shift in order to preach at Highway on Sunday. On MONDAY I returned to Springfield, taking Rich McCabe with me. Initially I planned on him working only at the Retreat Center, but J. E. thought it would be acceptable for him to be on the fairgrounds. Rich went back and forth between both sides of the Exhibit, trying to find a place where he could work. He found a place, and he worked well with the children on the Joy Junction side of the Exhibit. Monday was also a day where a number of workers had to leave for school (college and high school). On TUESDAY the fair traffic was slow, very slow. Mike Knappier and his wife (Gospel Chariot) were with us for two days, and did great work. Most of the youth were gone, but some lingered a little longer to work today (they really enjoy the work). The first two shifts of 4-hours had our youth, while the last 4-hour shift had all adults. On WEDNESDAY a crew (of four) came from Crieve Hall (Nashville), and they were encouraged very much by the work. Tim Frizzell gave the evening devotional on Christians beings an aroma of the Lord to the community in which they work/serve. Barry Gibson led us in our singing devotional. I worked the evening shift, though I did go in early (3:00 pm); we had one Bible study enrollment for a very slow evening. On THURSDAY I came into the Retreat Center to make coffee, and the raccoons got into the garbage left out on the porch (what a mess!). At the end of the morning shift I learned that I would be needed for Sunday morning to preach at the 10:30 church service on the state fairgrounds. This will be the second time for me to do so; the last time was about 10-12 years ago (I believe). I came home to finish the bulletin and run some copies on the copier at the building. On FRIDAY I finished up work at home and headed back to Springfield. That evening many of our youth returned to work the remainder of the fair, and it was a mighty pleasant sight to see them return. On SATURDAY we expected (and received) a large influx of fair-goers. On the afternoon shift that I worked nearly 50 people enrolled in Bible studies correspondence courses by mail. I thin for the day we had upwards of 80 Bible enrollments. On SUNDAY the whole gang went into the fairgrounds to work and prepare for morning services at the Illinois Building. I preached for about 20 minutes, Richard Hill led the song service, while we had about 60-65 in attendance. The previous Sunday when Peter Bumpass preached there were about 110 in attendance.
All in all, the fair work was (and is) a great success. The Highway Church of Christ oversees the work, but it is a cooperative work of many of our sister churches in the state. It is a rather expensive venture, but not nearly so expensive when one considers the price the Lord paid for us all!