August 22, 2010 § 11 Comments

We went to the Washington County fair
the birds and the beasts were there…

And so was the sun, full tilt, 100 degrees (farenheit).
Pooh, said I, no hat needed.

HM had purchased our tickets online, catering to my desire for a pie-and-veggie tent at a county fair. There was in fact a long line at the ticket window. A good sign, I thought.

We watched a “washers” (kindred to horseshoes) competition.  Its organization was invisible; there were dozens of competitors and it flowed right along. It was still going when we would be leaving 3 hours later.

I wore sandals. Not good for walking through the pens where the pigs were kept.
They were large (aka “fattened”), clean and cute/trusting.
One little girl sat on a footstool next to her pig, petting him with one hand, eating pizza with the other. The pig seemed to wriggle with delight at her attention. I couldn’t tell if she was comforting him, in a farmer kind of way, or if she loved him even though he was destined for….

I have sworn off bacon.
I have always liked “Babe.”

Before the huge auction  started, festivities were held under the big tent. The 4-H clubs were introduced and honored with awards and rounds of applause. There were at least 300 of us seated in the crowd, on benches and chairs. Despite the heat, everyone was chatting or reading the program, eating, chillin’, looking around.
The County beauty queens were introduced and awarded flowers. Very regal, they waved to the crowd and were well acclaimed. We saw them later, eating ice cream and listening to their “wrangler” moms.  The beauty knot they formed was more friendly than  competitive, it seemed. They were laughing, bent over, having a good time.  Likely they grew up together and maybe when they were  around 10, one of them might have said, “Let’s tryout for beauty pageants!” and they all agreed and here they were,  on their way.

Win me!

Could it have been too hot to eat?

Yes, it was too hot to eat, especially the “deep fired Reese peanut butter cups” – see sign above. I backed down tho’ it was on my agenda to try one of those odd fried foods…


There was a “car” section and had my brother been along, heat be damned, we would have looked at every booth, and inside every car there on display. But there’s always a “fun” car and this was it!

Ben, the mule, was a sweet guy.  Working animals, these are, strong and sometimes resistant. Today, Ben’s job was to “work” at the fair and put up with all of us admiting him and patting him. Of the people I observed walking by, all had to pet him. Sometimes, it’s easy to be a hero, eh, Ben?

We did finally get a little something to eat.  Roasted corn. Dipped in a bucket of butter! (what? a bucket of melted butter? I have got to do that at  my house.)  oh, yum.
We found a picnic table with a pinch of shade and sat at that end of it. We talked and ate and looked around. Men in sneakers. Women in sandals. (oh, good, I got that right.)  A fair amount of smokers.  Lots of french fries being eaten.  People walked through the sprinklers the fire dept had set up. No one avoided them. Everyone smiled as they did it.

A young mother (guessing 21?) came toward us pushing a stroller with two girls and being tagged up by a little boy. She came right for our table. “Here’s some shade,”she said and plunked the baby on the bench, the other little girl sat across from her and the little boy shimmied down to  our end. She had burgers and fries for all of them. She didn’t say  a word, just got busy spreading napkins, giving them ketchup cups, making sure they were ok.

Honestly, we haven’t shared a table with anyone since last in NYC where its common to be crammed intoseats at a table with strangers in places like the Broadway deli because it’s always a full house and empty seats are empty seats.

 The boy had his face painted. He looked at us and said “I’m a cheetah. Cheetahs are fast. They are faster than race cars.” He leaned behind his sister so his mom would here him: “Will this food mess up my face paint?”

She glanced over at him as she busied herself with the girls. “No, you’re fine.”
He looked at us again. “I have to eat carefully.” He pointed at his blue painted lips. “I don’t want to mess this up.”
I knew HM wanted to laugh but he didn’t. He nodded and smiled. We carried on our quiet little conversation, reminiscing about fair food of yore.
“I’m 7 and my sister is 5 and my other sister is 2,” announced Cheetah boy to no one in particular. “And,” he growled in a funny voice which I found hysterical but didn’t laugh,” and, I can pick her up.”
He went back to smacking on his french fries.
He looked up at us again. “Am I messing this up?” He pointed to his lips.
“Nope,” I answered. “Looks fine.”
“Good. I gotta stay a cheetah.I want my Daddy to see me. You know cheetahs run faster than race cars, dontcha?”
“How did you know that?” I asked. (still mom was busy with the girls, not looking up, not saying anything.)
“Daddy. Daddy told me.”
His sisters were getting ketchup on their faces. The mom rushed to ameliorate the mess.
HM and I kept talking quietly but enjoying the family scene, too, not interfering, just being there.

“I clean up after myself. I know what to do,” said cheetah boy when he was done and swooped his paper dishes into a ball and walked over to the trash can.”Do I still look ok?” he asked, walking back.
HM assured him that his cheetah-ness was intact. Looked fine.

And mom looked over at cheetah boy and smiled. “You ready to go on the rides?”

We couldn’t imagine how the little trio would fare on those loopty-loop rides with stomachs full of french fries, but somehow we think it all worked out pretty well. ‘Specially once Daddy showed up.

Peter Frampton was playing that night at the Washington County Fair. We decided not to stay for it though we discussed at length how it would be to play the county fair circuit as a once-great rock n roller who sang “I’m in You” to screaming crowds and made his guitar talk. Not a bad gig, really, when all’s said and done. Go, Peter!

Once we climbed hills and walked down country lanes to get back to our car and were underway, we found an amazing bakery in the town and continuing in a rather “fair-ish” frame of mind (open to eating various things, yes, some of it delicious junk), we ate gorgeous icing-ed spice cake and tiny cherry cheesecakes on the way home.

I still have to find a fair, however, that has the huge grange full of prize-winning pies and squashes and sewing and etcetera. There’s something about all that, and the smell of the grain hall that is the formal herald of fall.

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§ 11 Responses to Fair…

  • shoreacres says:

    Oh, darlin’. You come to Texas. We’ll do you a fair to a fare-thee-well. We’ll do chickens and pies and hand-pieced quilts and pickled okra. We’ll do turquoise eggs and 200 pound watermelons, and we’ll let you curry-comb a cow.

    The best fair ever was the Jasper County, Iowa fair in 1962. Bruce (last name withheld just because) and his buddies found us in the cow barn. He was tall and blond, I was just-slightly-mousy-brunette and he noticed me instead of her. He picked me up, and gave me a quick, upside-down dunk in a cattle trough.

    I developed a strange affection for big aluminum water containers, and he went on to become County Attorney.

    There’s nothing better than a fair, even when your face paint gets smeared. 😉

    • oh says:

      LOL! I wish little cheetah boy could hear your last line!
      And if I could just jump in the car and head your way for a fair, I would. I. need. pie. I need to see the pies others have constructed. I need pie inspiration. (I LOVE pies and I love making ’em!)
      OK, put that on the list of things to do when I get to Galveston and its greater area. And I am thinking “day off” right about now.

  • anno says:

    Haven’t been to a fair in years that measures up to the ones in my memory. Yours sounds mighty close, though … love your orange car! Maybe we should all head to Texas next summer?

    • oh says:

      Yup, I’m thinking Texas, A! Should we all sign up to do a road trip? with “pie” as the carrot? Oh, I’m saying yes!

  • CLo says:

    Oh, if Cheetah boy only knew what the world had in store for him. Such innocence.

    • oh says:

      Aw, come on. Is the world so tough, even on young men? I gotta tell ya, you were even cuter and just as honest…and still are.

  • qugrainne says:

    Oh, how sweet and wonderful and full of innocence and good old fashioned fun. Even though it was HOT! It reminds me of the old days, back in Outagamie County, where I won first prize for barrel racing. There were pies and pickes and games and stock car racing at night!
    What fun. Thanks for the story and the memory dredging.
    Happy last bit o’ summer to you.

  • mandy says:

    I love county fairs. Your fair looks fabulous. The two that I usually go to aren’t until September and October so fair’s just scream fall to me. I am very excited to be visiting the Minnesota State Fair this coming weekend.

  • ds says:

    Goodness, the memories! It all came rushing back (we had stock car races, too: weekends only; weekdays were for the sulkie races). If there had been a tractor pull you could have been reliving my childhood, where the Granges and Fire Departments made sausage & peppers or hamburgers & french fries & ketchup was everywhere…
    I wonder when Cheetah Boy finally allowed mom to wash his face 😉 So sweet!

  • jeanie says:

    OK, I’m totally captivated — feel as though I was there and loving it! Corn in a bucket of butter. That GREAT orange car photo. The pigs…

    The pig thing reminds me of when my friend Kate and I were headed to the Bead and Button show in Milwaukee a number of years ago. For a rather long while we were stuck in traffic besides one of those big metal semis with lots of holes in them — we realized as we looked through the spaces that they were pigs — no doubt on their way to market (or Chicago or wherever). It just felt bad to see these cute big pigs, knowing that they weren’t going to a good place.

    Cheetah boy cracks me up. Oh, that more kids couldn’t eat neatly and clean up after themselves. I hope when he went on the whirlygigs and upsy-downies that he didn’t mess up his make-up cleaning up…well, you know…

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