Love in the air at the Oregon State Fair

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Love in the air at the Oregon State Fair

7:09 a.m. PDT August 29, 2016

Maybe it’s the smell of sweets, the sound of music, games and cheers, or the bright lights at night, but the Oregon State Fair has a magical quality for many.

First meetings, proposals and anniversaries alike show romance is in the air at the fair.

On Saturday, Peter Loika, 37, proposed to his now fiancee Joyce Bonnes, 36, whom he met at the fair when he worked as a game operator. He played a game this weekend to win a prize with the ring hidden inside. She said yes.

And it seems Oregon State Fair love lasts.

When Robert Faler was 16 years old, he went to the fair with a friend. His friend’s girlfriend brought her best friend, Marilyn.

The four of them spent the evening riding on the Ferris wheel, the mad mouse, and the tunnel of love.

Robert thought Marilyn, 15 at the time, was beautiful and kind.

Now, 50 years later, Marilyn and Robert are celebrating 45 years of marriage and 50 years of being by each other’s sides.

Robert, 66, remembered the night as being not too hot, though Marilyn, now 65, quickly corrected him, saying it was very hot.

Perhaps Marilyn wore the orange sweater Robert thinks she looks wonderful in, they couldn’t quite remember.

But those details aren’t the ones that truly matter.

“The fair is magical to us because we met there,” Robert said.

The couple goes every year. They said they went late at night one year because it was the only time they could go — they weren’t about to let a year go by without at least stopping by.

Robert proposed to Marilyn in the fair parking lot after being together for about four years.

“She is everything a young man, an adult and a man in his 60s would want,” he said. “She was very pretty, still is.

“She is really loving, kind and giving.”

Marilyn too said Robert was kind, caring and compassionate, a real gentleman. That’s what drew her to him.

They were married in February 1971.

They’ve shared their love of the fair with their children as well — taking one of their sons to the fair just three or four days after he was born.

Every year they like to see the flower garden. They like seeing different concerts and they’ve kept prizes they won from different games over the years.

Robert said he has never won her a giant teddy bear, but may make that his goal for this year.

Robert and Marilyn, both Salem natives, work together at an accounting office in Salem with their daughter.

The fair has always meant a lot to Marilyn. But meeting Robert made the fair that much more special.

“If I stop to think about it, I’ve had a husband for 45 years and I met him at the fair,” she said. “It means a lot to me.”

Contact Natalie Pate at npate@StatesmanJournal.com, 503-399-6745, or follow her on Twitter@Nataliempate, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist or on the web at nataliepate.com

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Natalie Pate

Natalie Pate is the education reporter for the Statesman Journal in Salem, Oregon. Natalie has previously worked for organizations and publications such as Direct Relief International, Waging Non-Violence, and Amnesty International USA. She has had stories published with USA Today, Associated Press and Ozy, among others. Natalie earned her B.A. in Politics and French and Francophone Studies (FFS) from Willamette University. During her studies, she wrote a Politics thesis titled, "No One is Dying: How and Why the U.S. Federal Government Avoids Executing Prisoners on Federal Death Row" and an FFS thesis, in French, on cannibalism in the 16th and 17th centuries. Natalie is a journalist, performer, traveler, fiction writer and more. She is working to publish her dystopian novella, "Choice," which follows a man during 24 hours in solitary confinement for allegedly committing murder. For more information on Natalie visit www.about.me/natalie_pate, like her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/nataliepatejournalist, or follow Natalie on Twitter (@Nataliempate) or Tumblr (Nataliempate blog "In the Shoes of a Journalist"). Her reporting with the Statesman Journal can also be found at www.StatesmanJournal.com.

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