We’re entering the season of traditions. In a few weeks, people across America will gather with friends and family to give thanks and share a meal centered around turkey, dressing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and a host of other comfort foods that are part of their Thanksgiving tradition.
Following that, we’ll celebrate traditions again in December. In my house it’s Christmas, maybe it’s Hanukkah in yours, or another tradition. These are big traditions, but sometimes the smaller ones in our families are just as important. We recently went to the NC State Fair as part of a tradition in our family that includes roots to the beginning of our business.
Growing up, my parents took me to the Kentucky State Fair. We didn’t have phones with cameras to capture the images, but I have vivid memories of talking to Freddy Farm Bureau and the time I ate a corn dog and lost a tooth (no, we did not go on a mission to find it later). Memories from traditions are more permanent than anything digital.
Debbie and I started taking Anna to the NC State Fair from the time she was an infant. I’d take off an afternoon and we’d wander around the grounds looking at the booths, the animals, the vegetables and all the other stuff that comes with the State Fair. We’d park the stroller on a grassy hill (yes – it is still there) spread out a blanket and have a picnic with Anna.
When Anna was three, we stopped by the Village of Yesteryear where artisans and crafts people demonstrate skills from days gone by. We met Karl Johnson a scissor artist and decided to have him create a silhouette of Anna. Watching a skilled scissor artist work is truly an experience. His brother Erik now carries on the tradition of scissor art at the State Fair.
We framed the image and hung it on the wall in our office. When we started our company and named it Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, I scanned the image and 15 years later we’re still reminded that our brand was born out of a tradition.
This year, Anna found time to get away from college and come back home to go to the fair as a family. And, just as we have in years past, we followed our NC State Fair tradition. We stroll through the buildings, looking at the exhibits, stopping at least once at the House Autry booth for a fresh hushpuppy. We stopped for a quick photo in front of The Big Cart, a V8 powered shopping cart from the NC Department of Agriculture (I’m still negotiating for a chance to take it for a spin around the parking lot).
Then, we’re off to my favorite corn dog vendor where they’re hand-dipped and fried up fresh and hot. We explore the flower gardens, stop at the Village of Yesteryear and say hello to Erik and Dan Dye (a silversmith). We take a ride on the ferris wheel, and finish off the night with some fresh made ice cream churned by John Deer tractor engines, while watching the fireworks. We’ve followed pretty much the same ritual every year.
Not everyone connects with a State Fair as an annual tradition. But for me, it is an experience that, despite whatever noise might be going on in the world at the time, reminds me that we live in a great country.
Do you have traditions in your family and/or your business? Looking back, it’s clear to me that traditions are threads that bind us together. The cord we hang on to that gets us thru the ups and downs, the ebbs and flows of the year. A reminder that it is okay to pause, to celebrate and to remember.
At Anna’s Gourmet Goodies, we have customers who order gifts from us once or twice, and we love that. We also have customers who’ve made sending our gifts a tradition. We’re grateful to have the opportunity to provide not only our cookies and brownies, but in some small way, be part of a tradition that binds together our customers with the people they choose to share our gifts.
I hope you’ll make some time to reflect on traditions, even small ones, in your family and your business. And if Anna’s Gourmet Goodies happens to be a part of that tradition, know that we take that responsibility seriously and always strive to deliver more than simply great cookies and brownies, but an experience that has a lasting impact on every person who opens one of our packages. That’s a tradition we’re proud to be a part of.