For years we have happily ignored our county fair as something one enjoys hearing about from other people while blissfully avoiding the cost and stress for themselves. It’s like international travel. I want to thrill to your stories of working a mission in South Africa precisely so I don’t have to go to any trouble myself.
Nonetheless, this year it felt like the entire county — and my kids — were all at the fair. The stories and social media photographs of blissful fair-going fun lured me into thinking I too should attend.
Friday night I insisted to Mr. Wonderful the fair would make a lovely date for us. Cue the ominous music.
My first clue that attending the fair wasn’t going to be quite as smooth as my chamber of commerce dreams would allow was that on Friday night, during prime time, there was no parking, anywhere. Anyone else would know this. I was caught unaware.
I do have sympathy for the people who reside adjacent to the fairgrounds. That must be quite a hassle the week of the fair. I feel like if we can help them in some small way — and keep ourselves from having to hike four miles to the car — it’s a win/win for all involved.
We pulled into another private parking lot, with a string of cars behind us, where a young woman quickly relieved us of $5 and then pointed vaguely in the direction of … a solid wall of cars. When asked where she suggested we park she shrugged sheepishly and said “This isn’t my house.”
This is where my do-goodness meets up with my grumpiness. I want to support the people inconvenienced, then end up wondering if we just paid a random passerby $5 to park in another stranger’s shrubs. I spent the evening reminding Mr. Wonderful to hold some cash back in case we needed to get the car out of impound.
Once inside the actual fair I was met with a wall-to-wall sea of people. Elbows and deep fried onions vied for the right to smack me in the ribs. Carnival rides rattled like certain death and I’m pretty sure I saw an 11-year-old smoking a cigarette.
Profanity abounded (on T-shirts, mostly) and if I had to overhear one more person bark into a cell phone “where you at?” I was going to be pretty sure the English language had died that very night.
One of my least attractive qualities is the ability to become a total curmudgeon at the flip of the switch. I never want to do what other people want to do. I am only interested in attending events no one else enjoys.
To say I was not feeling the fair was to put it mildly. I believe my exact words were “It’s all coming back to me now, I like the idea of the fair, I do not like the actual fair.”
Nonetheless, I stomped around and ate lots of deliciously bad-for-me foods and ended up having a pretty good time. I grudgingly admitted as much and the fair and I agreed to remain friends, but perhaps see less of each other in the future. We needed our space, the fair and I.
Through a turn of events that do not matter I ended up back at the fair at 9 a.m. to watch the draft horse pulls as a gospel group warmed up for church services in the chapel across the way. The sun glowed over green hills in the distance as the horses performed in a hushed stadium.
It was in one word: Majestic.
I could like THIS fair.
Throughout the day we strolled down the midway, greeted friends, and ate more bad-for-us-but-oh-so-good food than should be allowed. We spent considerable time in the “Bunny Barn” where it took all I had not to buy one. The poultry was easier to resist.
I spent the afternoon admiring crafts I could not replicate, foods I would like to try and make, and watching people of all ages have a very good time.
As the sun went down and the lights came on, even the clatter of rides seemed more melodious than annoying this time around. The modern-day fair has its charms too.
On the subject of the fair I have been less than fair. I loved it — and everything about it — once I got over expecting it to be something it’s not
What it is
The fair is not convenient, clean or modern. The fair is not aimed at a narrow demographic. The fair fits everyone and that is part of the charm. Farmers and teenagers (and teenage farmers), and families, and singles and teens eager to see and be seen.
It all comes together in a winning sort of way.