Friday, August 12, 2011

Ode to the Best County Fair in the Midwest

My brothers and I grew up taking our Ohio hometown county fair for granted, but no more.  Between the six of us--us three siblings and our spouses, who live in different states, have all moved at least once, and have seen plenty of other county fairs now--we all agree that no other fair comes close!

For starters, we're surprised at how many fairgrounds are set up on asphalt, without a shade tree in sight.  And it's so disappointing when there's really not much to interest kids besides rides, games and food. Our fair has barns and barns of animals, with kids hanging around those barns eager to show off their 4-H projects and let you hold or touch their beasts.  There are auctions and judging going on all the time.  At night there is harness racing, pig and calf scrambles, tractor pulls and a demolition derby.  It's such a great little fair!  For many summers now, we've all timed our visits to see my parents so that they coincide with fair week.

The rides are fun for young and middle-aged alike!

Pilot Brother with his wife and oldest daughter (5)
Papa Rooster took SO many great shots this year, it took me forever to pick just a few.  I love Blondechick's hair in this one!

B16 and Blondechick18, with B20 and me in the background
Fair photos are so colorful!

Chicklet8 and her cousin, Professor Brother's middle daughter (9)
Every ride presents its challenges.

Professor Brother's oldest (13) with B12
We always run into someone we know.  It's a small town, after all.

Me with Mom (L) and Dad (R) with a longtime family friend (center L)
Strollers provide a good rallying point.

Prof Bro's middle daughter talks to Pilot Bro's 4 y.o., while Grandpa and Pilot Bro kneel.  Prof Bro and wife stand behind; B12 and B16 on R.
Though this "ride" doesn't move, the farm implement sales lot has been a perennial favorite for as long as I can remember!

Four cousins try out lawnmowers.  Notice grass, trees and shade!
As many years of combined fair experience as we had, we were all mystified by this sign.  Translucent pig tubes?  Safari hog tubes?  I could google, but it's more amusing to speculate.

I love the whole fair experience, but I think the animal barns are my favorite part.  It reminds me of my days hanging around the barns with my own show projects.

Checking out the fancy chickens.
Who can resist the charm of ever-friendly goats?

The kids were encouraged to feed the llamas!  Fortunately, they only spit at each other.

Horses were always my favorite.  This little filly, Fancy, was just three months old, and her owner showed us her trick:  If you scratched her back, she'd scratch yours!

Now for a short rant.  What has happened to 4-H, anyway?  In IL and here in WI, we've been invited to join generic 4-H clubs where everybody worked on whatever project they wanted to and the advisor was just an administrative leader, not an expert in their field; the burden is on the parent to find their child the help they need to complete whatever project they choose.  Where I grew up, you joined a club with an advisor who had some expertise, and everyone in the club worked on the same type of project.  I was in a sewing club of beginners through advanced, and my advisor was an expert seamstress.  I joined a rabbit club, a horse club, a dog club--not all in the same year!--and a cooking club.  Each club was led by an advisor with specific knowledge or interest, whether on an animal or on electricity, woodworking, model rockets or planes, quilting, or dozens of other projects.  They still run it that way in my hometown--why not elsewhere?  I really want to know!

Every year I appreciate the fair in a new way, and feel so thankful for the opportunities I had growing up.  I'm so happy to make memories there with my kids and my brother's families too!  I can only imagine how my dad must feel.  He remembers being a kid there himself, showing dairy cattle and staying overnight in the 4-H barn, showering in the cement block bathroom that's still there and not much improved from his day.

And he's still makin' memories at the fair!

Grandpa with B20


Anonymous said...

Jeanne, I love the photo of you and the horse (withe the kids watching). there is just something very funny and cute about that photo.

At A Hen's Pace said...

Thanks, Matt! I think so too. I was thinking about making it my profile pic on Facebook. You just helped me decide! :)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful! I love the expressions your "photographer" captured! I've shared these with my family, too! --Dixie

At A Hen's Pace said...

Dixie, he will be glad to hear that you shared them. He says that's why he does it!


Anonymous said...

Great post! I shared the link to the blog with the friend in the photo... Pianomum