There was a great deal of community excitement around our county fair this year. Like everywhere else, last year’s fair was canceled. 2020 was like a rude, uninvited guest who ruined the party. People were tense, fearful of what could happen next, and life was basically put on hold. But now the guest has been ousted. Whether you waved goodbye civilly or flipped it the bird when the bells tolled midnight on January 1, 2021, it’s gone, and life seemed to be filled with hope and positive expectation despite the nation’s political and social struggles.
Our small Potter County Fair is something I look forward to every year. I try to enter a couple of handcrafted items each year because the more people who participate, the more fun it is. In our fair, there is free parking, free entry, and no fees for entering items to be judged. At most fairs, you have to pay at least for parking. What we do pay for is rides, games, and, of course, the food. There is nothing like fair food and we had two years’ worth of eating to do!
The first whiff of the fair is one of my favorite moments. After two years of waiting, we were back! We had entries to sign in and friends to greet. Immediately the odor of French fries and maple cotton candy greeted us, making us salivate. Once our entries were in, we headed to the lemonade stand. I’ve been buying lemonade from the place for years. They fresh squeeze it right in front of you. It always has the perfect balance of lemon and sugar. Not too sweet, not sour at all.
Other than guzzling the lemonade, we didn’t do anything but go home. But the following day, we returned to see how the judging went. This is what my family calls “Fair Day.” We spend hours looking around, riding rides, eating fair food, and visiting all the livestock. Basically, the day is to spend money, eat lots of food, then try not to throw up on the Twister. Repeat as desired. And my son desired it almost nonstop.
The rides are not very intense: Ferris wheel, Super Trooper, Twister, and a slew of kiddie rides and games. My older children are not as twitterpated by the rides as my youngest. He could ride them over and over without blinking. I used to be able to do that, but not anymore. So, when he met up with some friends to ride with, I was ready for a break. Very ready. While he and his friends took full advantage of their ride bands, I visited the livestock.
The rabbits are always a fun look. Who can resist those adorable little creatures? Well, “little” may not always be the correct word. There is one breed that seems to grow naturally large. The adult version is approximately twice the size of my mid-sized cat. There were myriads of ribbons on display: First place, Second place, Best of Show, and Best Opposite. I’m not a rabbit owner, so don’t ask me what “Best Opposite” means. However, I do think the committee should have had a “Looks Like” category. I saw rabbits that resembled dalmatians, a shiatzu, Chewbacca, and even Mr. Snuffleupagus (for those who remember Big Bird’s big and hairy friend). They could have had a “Best Multiplier” category for the mama rabbit on show with her six babies.
The goats and sheep were as expected. However, at one point, I was concerned we would be escorted off the fairgrounds when my son spoke “goatese” (the animal, not the facial hair) and started some sort of revolution. Where he learned their language, I don’t know. But in an alarmingly short amount of time, he had the goats bleating. I can neither confirm nor deny the possibility that I walked away, pretending not to know the instigator of the uproar in the goat shed.
I know many people think the horses are the stars of the livestock. I can’t argue they are intriguing animals and move with majesty and grace (unless they trip over a shadow and nearly dump their rider. If you have ever ridden, you know it could happen). However, I have to say I was impressed with the pigs. I realized they are cleaned and prepped to look and smell their best for the fair, but while the horses can be high strung and loud, the pigs were totally chilled out.
Our day at the fair was a very satisfying experience. My kids who entered art did well. My quilts—not so much. But that is okay. My goal this year was to participate to help the county fair regain some traction. I was pleased to see a good showing of entries, though there certainly could have been more. But what was extremely pleasing was watching people laughing, talking, enjoying life.
To me, that’s what it should be about. The time to hide in fear is past. The longer people cower at home, listening to the news and their fear-mongering tactics, the harder it is to get back into real life. Be safe, but be out there. Be present in your life. Living in fear is not healthy mentally or physically. Don’t grudge others their enjoyment of living. Activities are available for everyone, and the ability to get out there and participate is fair play for everyone.
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