State Fair Time

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August is our State Fair month.  The fair runs for the first three weeks in August and it is a must see event for us.  It is interesting because we never went to the State Fair when we were growing up.  But that could be because I was in a place where the state fair wasn’t a big deal.  Besides, we had our County Fair and that’s what we’d attend.  The highlight were the years we entered vegetables from our garden and actually won a few ribbons!

Your ability to enjoy the fair really depends on the weather.  Summers here are variable.  We typically get a couple of stretches of really hot, humid weather and walking around in a crowd and in and out of non air conditioned buildings in 90+ temps is no fun at all.  This year the temps have topped out in the 80’s and the humidity has been down so it has made for some good fair weather.

My wife and I went the first weekend.  They rotate animals throughout the fair and the first weekend is when all the 4-h rabbits are around.  She just loves rabbits.  We had a pet rabbit before we got married and he actually lived for 13 years which is a bit long for a rabbit.  But it is fun to walk through the rows and rows of rabbits and see which ones will come up to you.  I hate walking by the cages holding the white rabbits which sometimes are labelled “meat pens” but it is the reality that some rabbits are bred to be pets and some are bred for dinner.

My sister and her partner were in town this weekend.  They had taken a vacation and made the drive from their residence and stopped in to see the parents and then came down for a few days.  My brother lives in the same area I do and we all decided that the Fair would make a good family thing so we down yesterday for a late afternoon/evening visit.

I’m not sure whether it was the trips to the county fair that sticks with us but we are all big fans of the fair.  Not the rides that attract the kids but just walking through the various barns to see cows, pigs, sheep, rabbits, and horses.  And the building where all the vegetables and other things are displayed.  I mean where else do you get to see a 15 foot sunflower (won the ribbon for biggest sunflower).  And there are several other agricultural themed displays as well.

Of course, the big draw is the food.  There is the Dairy Barn with milkshakes and grilled cheese sandwiches.  The beef producers have multiple tents with rib eyes and beef brisket.  The pork producers have tents with pork chops and pork burgers.  (Yes, it is a little conflicting to see the animals and then realize what their ultimate destination is but more on that later).  And you have the lemon shake ups and deep fried cheese and corn dogs and elephant ears and funnel cakes and a whole bunch of things you’d never eat any other time except walking around a fair grounds because it just seems like the right thing to do.

The crowd at the fair is about as far from the sequins and spray tans of a dance comp but I kind of feel more at home even though we really have no connection to agriculture.

Maybe it is just something about the romantic notion of a simpler life.  Now, I’m not about to turn in my electronic devices and go back in time but it is sometimes fun to just wonder what it would have been like.  I’m sure I gloss over all the bad parts but it does bring back memories of a simpler time.  OK, these probably aren’t real memories of mine but, every now and then, I can imagine that I really belong in a different time.

And some of that could be escapism.  We happened to be sitting when the fair parade started.  And by “parade” I mean a strange assortment of tractors pulling an equally strange assortment of trailers with various people and things riding on them.  There was a horse drawn wagon pulled by an amazing team of Percheron horses with their manes all tied up with purple ribbons.  There were the antique tractors that were smaller and then some more modern ones.  Again, it wasn’t much of a parade but it was just compelling so you watched and, for a moment, all the crazy crap happening in the world didn’t matter.  Maybe that is the true draw of the fair.

They have a place called goat mountain where you can buy carrots for $2 and feed hungry goats.  Or you can spend a quarter to put in a little machine that dispenses pellets.  The goats know you are doing that so they stick their heads outs and try to get to the pellets before you can get them into your hand.  There was another building set up by FFA which had baby farm animals you could pet or feed (for a cost).  There was also a dairy nursery set up where, if you were there at the right time, you could see a calf being born.  If not, you just saw all the calves that had been born with some of the newer ones just resting and others testing their new legs.

In reality, I would most likely starve as a farmer.  There is just no way I could raise cows or pigs for meat.  You walk through the barns and see all the animals and it is hard not to see them as pets even though you know they are not.  I think it is really in the eyes.  These animals just have warm, soft eyes that just makes me a little guilty when I have my pork burger.  If you want a contrast, think of raptors like eagles or hawks.  They have cold, hard eyes.  I love hawks, eagles and owls but nobody would ever consider them “cuddly” except when they are babies and have the down.  Once they get their feathers, they start to look like the killers they are.  A cow never looks like that.  They always look like they could never harm anything.

The funny thing about last night is that because the weather was so nice, we lost track of how much time we spent there.  The only way we knew is because there was an announcement every hour about “fair time” and what events were coming up.  Of course, as the sun started to set, it became clear how long we had been there.

It was a good night.  I’m lucky I guess that I get along with my brothers and sister (maybe because we don’t see each other than often).  My younger brother and sister are introverts like me.  But we get together and we can just crack each other up all night with various random observations about things and places.  It was a good time.

Rabbit Close Up (Looks like the one we used to have)

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Sheep who seemed to want his picture taken

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Don’t tell him about the pork burger though.

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And the guilt trip for eating burgers starts right now.

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