This is the time of year that I associate with County Fairs and State Fairs. The big deal for those fairs when I was growing up, in a rural area, was the hand-raised farm animal competition, so I still think about the barns full of lowing sheep, snorting pigs, chortling guinea pigs, and the show rings. The midway was beside the point in a farm community.
While I did finally get my own pony, it wasn’t until much later, when I was in my forties. Still, I felt like a farm girl when I’d take my own children to the fairs, and work our way through every barn and every species. We lived near the Montgomery County, Maryland, fairground, and always went through the barns of animals and rode rides in the midway – and sampled the food.
Friends who had some more acreage than we had during the school year were heading straight home after school. They were raising their chosen animals, from lop-eared rabbits to steers several times their size. Those pets that were their projects started out as their chosen pick of a litter, and towards the beginning of summer were finishing up. When the County Fair came, they carted them off to stalls where they waited to be on display in the show rings. The owners often took along their own cots, and stayed there with their animals. I still enjoy seeing those ambitious kids sudsing up a farm animal and lovingly grooming it to a ‘t’.
There are a lot of other competitions at the fairs, including baking and quilting, weaving and decoration. I enjoy them all, but haven’t competed for myself.
Have you been involved? Making or judging? Raising animals? Concocting preserves?
Last year was my first time ever to visit the State Fair of Texas. It’s held in September, but it was still pretty hot out the day I went. The DART rail system stops right outside, so it was no problem to take public transportation. I went on a day that’s free for senior citizens, so enjoyed my new status on the silver side. I even enjoyed being told “Howdy” by Big Tex, the fair’s symbolic greeter. I didn’t, however, take one of the featured corny dogs, as I admit that hot dogs have always been a little rank for my taste.
The best part of the Texas State Fair, for me, was the butterfly house and garden. The amazing varieties of butterfly were gorgeous, fascinating, and took many hours for me to enjoy. I picked up a card of illustrations of the species there, and tried to locate them all. It was a treat to see them flutter around, and I watched my every step with care to make sure I didn’t take a personal toll on their existence in pampered greenery.
The State Fair of New Mexico is a unique experience, and I joined a group of friends several times visiting it in Albuquerque. There is a tribal area that demonstrates local pueblo art and ceremonies, even dances. There’s a wonderful atmosphere in all fairs, but New Mexico’s has such a variety of areas and exhibits that I find it special.
Is there a fair in your experience, local or statewide? Have you got special attractions you always visit, or has your family had a special area it experienced?