Our State Fair started last Friday and I’ve been twice. From people I’ve talked with, there are those who are like me and look forward to the Fair and make sure to go every year. And there are those who are sort of interested and will go if the weather is decent but don’t really like the crowds and such. And there are a group of people who would never be caught dead at the Fairgrounds.
It is probably best to not try and figure out the reasons why some go and some don’t. We never went to our state fair growing up but that was because it was several hours away and not really a big event. So we always settled for our County Fair (yeah we like our Fairs in this part of the country) which actually never felt like settling since we didn’t know any better.
And maybe there is a nostalgic part to it at least for me. My wife enjoys the fair and she’d never been to one before meeting me. There are the animals of course. I know cows and pigs and sheep aren’t pets but there is still a draw there. It is actually kind of fun to see the fair goers (many of whom are city folk) walking through the cattle barn and dodging the cow bombs and occasionally having to get out of the way as someone brings a cow towards the judging rings. You see the people who’ve brought the cows and they’ll sometimes be napping in chairs next to the cows so showing animals is not an easy things. Given the fact that the barn isn’t really air conditioned and there are the aforementioned cow bombs, it is hard to believe anyone could really sleep comfortably in there but they do.
The Fair is definitely low tech. They do have a website and, if you are so inclined, you can program your day with the things that interest you. But they always make an announcement over the speakers at the top of every hour so you really don’t need to do that. I guess there is part of me that does enjoy being unplugged and just strolling around the animals and exhibits. It is probably an introverted intuitive thing but we live a great deal of our lives inside our heads and it is so easy to time shift to different places and times and just try to imagine living back then. Part of the fair is set up as a pioneer village and they have the displays of antique tractors which just helps with the illusion. Of course, I know my view is overly romanticized since living conditions back then were much harder.
It is also nice just to see the focus on agriculture. We are of course in the middle part of the country where that is very important. Of course, I live in the big city and, for many people, their only real connection is the organic produce section at Whole Foods. I know we aren’t really a country of small family farms anymore but there are still a whole lot of people living far away from the big city who work really hard to make sure that we can go into the Whole Foods and the shelves will be stocked. It is kind of important sometimes to remember that those people exist and that’s kind of what the Fair does.
And I should mention that a lot of people go to the Fair just for the food. There is deep fried everything and we always have some of the deep fried cheese because you can’t go wrong with deep fried cheese. We tend to skip a lot of the more traditional items and go for things that are a little more unique to our Fair. I’ve learned to skip the Midway with the rides and games which are an attraction for others. There’s also a giant building that was commercial which was still kind of fun to walk through except that now it is overrun with people who work for Dish and aggressively pursue you to give up cable. Yeah, that’s not why I’m here and you are disturbing my calm so now we just avoid it.
Which gives us more time to explore some of the other places. Like the building with the cheese sculpture (yes, that’s a thing that happens every year) which also has displays of vegetables and awards blue ribbons for the tallest corn stalk and tallest sunflower. This year, there was a corn stalk over 20 feet high and you just don’t see that walking around the mall. There’s also our DNR building with a little butterfly garden and aquariums showing many of the types of fish that inhabit the various lakes, rivers and streams.
If you are a fair person, then you understand. If not, then you probably think it all sounds a little boring and maybe even a little dated. I get that. But, for us, it is a can’t miss event.
The one downside is that the State Fair means summer is winding down. I know we aren’t quite half way through August and that we still have a good two weeks before Labor Day but the bulk of summer is behind us now. It means going to the Fair is a happy event but the last day is kind of a sad event.