Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The County Fair!

I'm a bit late at updating here. The flu...yuck!!

Thankfully, it didn't strike me down until AFTER Sunday, the date of the county fair!!

Little fair, big fair, I don't care. They are still my one of my favorite things to do. I'd rather do a county or even state fair rather than going on a cruise or to Disney, and a lot of other destinations. (Ok, not over going to Europe.)

When I was a really small child, in Memphis they had the Mid-South Fair, and my memories were those of someone knee-high gazing up at a noisy and colorful melee of fun. The smells, tastes, rides, colors, music...an overload of childhood glee! I remember the cotton candy, the corn on the cob, and the frozen chocolate-covered banana that didn't quite taste as good as it looked, but I got one every time anyway because the only place you could get one was The Fair. Cotton candy and salt water taffy. Popcorn would crunch underfoot as we navigated the carnival wonderland.
My mother always had my sister and me sit at the boot of the lady who did the paper silhouette cut-out portraits, and every year we had one done, she'd frame it later in the year for a holiday gift to my grandparents. We loved the booths, the rides, the games. But most of all, I loved the livestock barns.

Leave me there forever! (that was my sentiment...I was a country girl even when I lived in the city)

It's been decades since I've gone to the fair. In fact, I don't know if I've been to one since I was about 6 or 7 years old. There's always some reason. I mentioned to my husband two years ago as a newlywed that the one thing I realllyyy wanted to do for fun each year is to go to the fair...county or state matters not...just take me to the fair! Last year we tried. The day before we were scheduled to travel there, his mother fell and broke her hip. The fair lasted two weeks. She had to be rehospitalized during the two weeks for an emergency operation for clots in her lungs, and had a lengthy rehabilitation. You see, some years the fair is just not meant to be.

We couldn't do the state fair this year, nor even the closest one, but we DID get to go to one within driving distance Sunday!

It was smallish, but with a bit of something for everyone. Except horses, they didnt have horses. Or sheep. (pout) The agriculture exhibits were mainly 4-H and FFA, as were the livestock shows. The day we went happened to be the beef cattle show...paint me happy!! J and I sat in the stands watching, and being a small county fair, the cattle show was on a very small scale. And so much fun!

We're wannabees. We've not raised any cattle, or any other livestock during our lives. We're preoccupied with trying to get to the point we have any sort of land to try it on, right now. So we watch. We're by now seated in the stands, surrounded by folks who've done this a lot more times than we have.
I watch quietly, trying not to raise a red flag of ignorance. My husband is less suave. The youth competition is in the arena. The young girls and boys are trying to please the judge, align their heifers, and keep their animals still, which is proving difficult for some. A girl with a flashing rhinestone belt repositions her reluctant cow for the third time. Cattle are turned to their best advantage. Cattle feet are prodded to just the right position. Cows moo and shift. Competitors try their best to give attention to both cow and judge.
One cow issues a steaming stream of urine on the feet of the next competitor. As if cows can time their bathroom relief, my husband stage-whispers an alarmed,"That cow just peed on her feet!" The show goes on. Other cows do their business at various points in the proceedings, each time met with more excited whispers from the husband-front, "it's pooping right while the judge is looking!" Men and body functions. I kept shooting him looks of "What, are you five years old??" while he continues in undertones his fascinated cataloguing of the fertilizer process during the stretches of time the cattle are being led and displayed before the judges.

I endure the hushed byproduct fascination commentary, and my husband endured the entire stock show...because he loves me. We start mini-wagers on which animal we think'll win. My husband starts bets on which cow will behave the worst. Oh, the drama of it all :) (My pick wins several prizes, yay!)

The chickens and rabbits were in a separate area, and there werent that many of them. Maybe a few dozen. I liked the dwarf rabbits and was happy to note that among the few chickens there, they did have two New Hampshire red hens, 1 Amercauna, and 1 Buff Orpington. Several RIRs. The rest were fancy breed chickens and other sorts of birds.

Everything else was secondary. We toured the dairy barn. There were three holsteins and two jerseys. There were two unindentified full-sized dairy goats, about four Nigerians, and four pygmies. So cute!! There were no other barns to tour.

So we toured the food, though we mostly smelled it. Gosh, someday I'll go just for the food. But we were both sort of feeling semi-puny (and now that I have the flu, I know why) so the food was really enjoyable just being smelled. We saw great exhibits of all sorts. It's all fascinating! Old tools, different sorts of engines and fuels, gardening. They had a gardening exibit featuring this fellow's patented self-watering contained planter thingy that you could grow vegetables or flowers in...sort of an "it has it all" kit...and the vegetables were enormous. Of course the kit cost about $40 just for a 3x3' kit.


We bumped into a couple of master gardeners who had an exibit for a community garden, and we passed some very pleasant time talking and exchanging ideas, etc. They gave me their card, and it will be fun seeing the new garden they're setting up. The last one they set up improved the "bad area of town" so much that now it's prime property...so prime that the city doesnt want to keep the property tied up with a garden. Hmmm. So they're on to greener pastures and an area that won't be so easy to be bumped from next time around. And better situated to be available to more people, too. A great bunch of folks this is who have pooled their efforts and talents for this great garden!

We loved visiting the area for arts and crafts. That's the place they had all the baked and canned goods (with prizes), the drawings, quilts, and every sort of visual or handmade art...just so much fun to see the variety and creativity! A man did my name for free in calligraphy. Then we went on to the science fair exhibits. One kid had done his theorizing that since his dog licked its wounds, perhaps dog spit has healing chemicals or properties. So he tested dog spit's healing properties in comparison to a certain antibiotic's. Interesting! (I homeschooled my daughter part of her life...call me weird, but I think kids have THE most interesting perspectives that are too soon squelched by adults).

We didn't hurry through any of this. We zig-zagged, backtracked, ambled, and lingered...and laughed. We really needed that time together!

The last building was the commerical exhibits...i.e. an anything-goes flea market sort of atmosphere. The smell of essential oils and potpourri knocked us over just inside the door. Then we traversed the tight aisles where were subjected to every salesman's hawked ware, philosophy, religion, and invention. On a single aisle alone, you could get your ring cleaned for free, get a free carpet demonstration, insurance, a cure for male pattern baldness, and preached to about your soul's eternal destiny. Everyone was pushy. I smiled and declined giving my wedding ring to the ring cleaner salesman. No sooner was the "No thank you" was being formed by my mouth, he had actually reached for my glasses (my contacts have gone kaput recently) and was trying to take them off me to clean. LOL! My walk upgraded to a determined trot. Trot trot past the vacuum guy. No eye contact with the trinket hawkers waving me down. Picking up speed at Fundamentalist Witness Person #1 who thrust a tract literally into my NON-outstretched hand, and SAFE! lunged and caught my husband's jacket and trailed in his wake. Uhoh...he lingered a moment too long at one booth. I saw them coming. Aisle #2 people were poised and waiting for us to round the corner. I said "Hang on, honey!" and plowed along determined to come out on the other end with my wedding ring, person, and private salvation intact. I suceeded. Right in front of the unmanned Libertarian Party booth. Maybe the folks at that booth were getting their rings cleaned or buying a custom-blended aromatherapy oil?

We got out of there and made for the hills...laughing!

We'd spent most of the day seeing the sights. It was our short version county fair trek, just enough to wear us out and yet leave us wishing for more the next year around.

With all the great blogs out there and folks trying new recipes, handcrafts, soaps, etc, maybe I'll get good enough at something by this time next year to try my hand at entering one of my own at the fair. I'll find SOMETHING to test and experiment with and personalize enough to give it a go. Won't that be FUN?? I'm all happy at the thought of having some canned goods or pickles or such to try entering.

In between cattle shows where my husband is pointing out poo, of course.



farmer, vet and feeder of all animals said...

Just wait until you have your own cow (and any other larger pooping animal) and your husband can even pick it up with his hands like we have had to do before :-D hahahahahaa
How much talk he will get out of that! Nobody ever says when they are in school "yeah---I am going to raise animals and have crap on my shoes, slip in it and pick it up with my bare hands to look close at it" :-D hahahahaha
I will admit picking up the year old dry stuff and crumbling it into humus in your hands is pretty cool----better than when its still warm from the body hahahaha This whole subject makes me laugh!! Hey---time to eat now! chocolate pudding sounds really good!

Robbyn said...

LOL!!!!!!! Monica, you're one sick puppy! (chocolate pudding??! hahaha) I brought my husband over here and read him your comments...
Can't say I've had to handle the fresh stuff by hand yet, but I'm one of those weird folks that covets old manure for the garden beds. It's probably just a matter of time...

I've got a great Mississippi mud cake recipe if you ever get tired of pudding...(oops)...lol!! nevermind haha