Friday, September 20, 2013

Report from the county fair

Where I grew up, we did not go to the county fair. I can't even recall if there was one. (There must have been, right? Aren't counties are required by law to have annual fairs?) It just wasn't a thing we did, living in the suburbs of D.C.

So when we moved to our little town in Ohio, the county seat, I did not realize how much of a Thing going to the fair would be. Everyone here goes to the fair; some of my friends have kids who are part of 4H and such. The fairgrounds are right in town, just a few blocks away (a nice walk). And the school kids here get two days off from school for the fair!

(These guys were butting heads. 
Who do they think they are, goats?)

When we first moved here and Dexter was little, we went to the fair every year. Our attendance is more hit-and-miss of late, and this year we went without the boy--who went with his friends. (Good lord, going to fair with his parents would be about the last thing he wants to do these days! Plus, Patrick and I held hands, which I'm sure he would have found mortifying.)

The purported highlight of our particular county fair is the Little Brown Jug harness race. I've never been to the race itself. (Admission is expensive that day, plus there's the whole "I teach all day on Thursdays" thing.) I'm a little suspicious of the racing industry anyway, having grown up in Maryland. I'd rather visit the horses who live at the fairgrounds during non-fair time, saying hello on one of my walks or bike rides. For us, the attractions of the fair have been the rides, the food, and the farm animals.

 (People attach lawn chairs to the fence along the race track months ahead of time
to claim good seats for the race. 
I think these have been there for a while...)

The rides are what you would expect--carnival rides, some for little kids and some for daredevils. One year, Dexter was finally big enough to go on the non-kiddy rides, about which he was VERY excited. We chose one for all three of us that looked pretty innocuous: everyone sat side-by-side in a row, and the thing moved the row of chairs back and forth for a while, then around in a circle. There was no upside-down-ness involved, so I thought it would be okay.

 (One of Dexter's favorite rides from days gone by...)

I've never felt so sick in my life! Since then, we have mostly avoided the rides.

Way in the back of the fairgrounds, there's a place for the tractor pull (which we can usually hear, late into the night, at our house), demolition derby (which always reminds me of the end of this book), school bus races (which are just as awesome as you'd think they are) and lawnmower races.

(This year's parade of lawnmowers
before the races got underway.)

Somewhere in my files I have a picture of my pants leg, splattered with mud from the demolition derby. It was exciting!

Our county fair is full of contests--best corn and soybeans, best rhubarb, best tomatoes, best photography, best quilt (several categories), best pig, best chicken... too many to name. It's fun to look at the winners.

(I'm guessing these looked more delicious
on the day they were judged...)

(This was one of my favorite quilts from this year.)

(Confession: I entered my knitting one year and won a blue ribbon! But, truth be told, there wasn't a lot of competition. I had all sorts of ideas about how to reform the contest so it would tap into the hundreds of women in our county who knit all sorts of beautiful things... But then I remembered: I am the egghead outsider. I need to just calm down. Maybe later, after I've been here a while, I can offer my newfangled ideas to the folks who've been doing this their whole lives...)

I think, for some people, the contests are the whole point of the fair, especially the animal contests (which seem to include some serious if good-natured competition). But us? We wouldn't know the difference between a Bantam and a Rhode Island Red; we just like to look at the animals.

Of course, being a fiber person, I'm less interested in the neatly shaved sheep and am more interested in ones like these:

(These ladies were the only fleece-still-on of the bunch.)

And here's what I really see when I look at them:

(Don't you want to just bury your fingers in those curls?
Or is that just me?)

There are always some fancy chickens.

(I swear there's a chicken underneath that outfit.
Doesn't he look proud of his blue ribbon?)

And it's entertaining to walk amongst them while they crow and cluck.

This year, the stroll amongst the rabbit cages took a turn to the dangerous...

(I can't help but notice she's wearing a lot of eye makeup...)

And then to the positively macabre!

(And yet she/he looks so cute, not at all like a zombie.)

My goodness.

This year, in the tent that's all about farm animal babies, instead of eggs that would be hatched during the fair (one of my favorite things), they had a bunch of already-hatched chicks and ducklings. They are cute as heck, but I kind of liked the excitement of possibly seeing an egg hatch while you were there.

(duckling pile-on!)

All in all, it was a fun visit. Which of course included the requisite fried food. (It's just unpatriotic to go to the fair and shun the funnel cake. I draw the line at the deep-fried Snickers bars, though.)

(Maybe she opted for the deep-fried Snickers...)

It's the last day of the fair today, which means Fall is really here. I hope the new season is bringing you some time to reflect on your harvest. Do you have a county fair where you live?



  1. I love your photo-filled fair review. I've never beeen to our Columbus area county fair since we host the state fair. Mark and I atyended this year and also enjoyed holding hands. I was upset that the alpacas are now only present during pre-dair days. I also love feeling sheeps' wool, but super love feeling alpaca. Mmm.

  2. Hey Thanks Karen, Fun to see what is up in Delaware County and the land of Moses Bixby and where the Glessner and Cowles Families met up back in the day before their moving west.....Cheers.Wichozani wo Wokiya for you, Patrick and the boy, Dexter.......

  3. I am very sad I never went to the fair when I was at school! I go to ours here, but it's not nearly as big as yours. Funnel cake is good, but I admit that deep fried Snickers are amazing.