State Fair Days

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Yesterday, we spent a good part of the day at the State Fair. It is always one of the highlights of summer and having it cancelled last year was tough to take. But there is just something about the experience that I enjoy. We had a reasonable weather day – sunny but not overly hot or humid and with a breeze in the evening. That always helps.

People go for different reasons. We go for the animals and other displays as well as the food so we skip the midway with the rides and things. Those of us in the cities are separated from the land and the actual sources of food. I’m sure those who show the cows and are around them all day get a kick out of people like me stopping to take a picture or two.

Along with the cows, you’ve got the sheep and goats and pigs and rabbits. There will also be chickens but they share space with the rabbits so once the rabbit judging is over, the poultry moves in. Some of the buildings have been upgraded but the swine barn seems to still lack air conditioning making not the most pleasant place to be on a hot summer day.

They judge and display any type of vegetable or fruit that can grow in our climate. The beekeepers are there to sell honey and tell you about how important bees are. Even have someone representing the growers of Christmas trees (and they judge those as well). Got the tallest sunflower and cornstalk along with the largest of certain vegetables like a giant head of cabbage. They even show bales of hay which makes me wonder what are the qualifications for judging hay.

Yes, I think you have to be a certain type of person to find this stuff fun. I know part of it is also to showcase just how big agriculture is. I mean it isn’t that far from my house to the nearest corn or bean field but you can easily forget just how important it really is.

The famous horses shown above were making a guest appearance. I think they are at the fair the entire time. They brought them out for the parade early in the evening so we watched the process as they got them all decked out and tied up one by one. They even brought the dog because the wagon wouldn’t look right without him.

Had the two drivers in their uniforms. I wonder how you get that job. Not sure how many appearances they actually make but I can’t imagine going on tour and basically waiting around all day until you get to climb up and lead them around. Then again, that is probably better than then the people who had to follow behind the horses cleaning up what the horses dump along the way. Not even sure they ever really used horses like this to haul their beer but they are impressive to look and the beer brand wasn’t really that prominent so it was good.

Speaking of stuff that needs to be cleaned up, I did forget to mention that you need to watch your step in the animal barns. They move them from stalls to be judged and cows and sheep are going to do what cows and sheep do.

Our DNR has a building there with a butterfly garden and all sorts of information on the environment and things like our state parks. We stopped to see a show from a raptor center at one of our parks that brings raptor ambassadors around to show off these beautiful birds. All of the ones they showed were injured in some way (car strikes mostly) so they now live out their lives at the center with the occasional trip to a fair.

There was really too much to see in one day. Got in over 14000 steps because the fairgrounds is not a small place. You also can’t eat everything you might like in one setting. Yes, there are all kinds of fried abominations at the fair but there are other interesting choices as well. We’ve got a return trip back to see the rest and to eat what we missed the first time.

I had to buy some salt water taffy on the way out. Why? It is kind of a weakness of mine. Probably something you either love or hate but it is just one of those things that screams state fair and I really never get it any other time. Plus the booth was strategically placed right near the exit so you can buy your box and head out.

I didn’t even mention the opportunity to feed some farm animals. Mostly goats and the carrot slivers they sell are way overpriced but I can’t help myself. Problem is you run out so fast and the goats you didn’t feed just give you that look like “hey what about me?”.

It was a very nice way to spend a summer day.

I do feel a little guilty eating a pork burger after walking through the swine barn.

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