Ah, the County Fair

This morning I got the chance to walk around the County Fair with my daughter’s pre-school class, which was a hoot. I absolutely love the Fair. Especially the livestock barns. Yes, I enjoy a stroll through the quilt show, a walk past all the booths where we get free popcorn, lollipops, and “future nurse” hats for the kids. I even love to walk past the booths where we don’t get foot-long corn-dogs. But the thing that brings me back year after year is the livestock barns.

This is my yearly appointment with what is really going on in the world. It makes no difference to me that I have seen it before, I am always shocked. I love to walk past the small town cheerleader girls chatting through their gum about their steer. I love to see a bunch of nervous kids with canes sweating it out trying to keep their pigs moving in a circle so the judges can get a good view of the meat in motion (and comment later about the shape of their hams). I love to see the piglets fighting to nurse (there are seven this year), and the hilarious shock on my kids’ faces about this same activity. I love to see a cute lady, pinning a pig on the ground underneath her while she chats with someone, all the while cleaning out its ears with a toothbrush (yes, a toothbrush!). I love the startling reality of it all – God made these!

When I was 8 1/2 months pregnant with Lina, I spent a long time at the pen of a very pregnant sheep. Hanging from her seriously swayed back was an enormous belly, twitching. I stood there with my aching hips and sympathized. I went away so much more thankful. However tired I might be, I was not in a pen with visitors streaming by all day, and my child did not have hoofs. Also, and this is very important, there was no decorated poster-board above my head inviting people to guess when I was going to produce offspring. There is always something at the Fair to make you a more spiritual person. So let me encourage you to find a fair and attend. Eat an elephant ear, and if you are lucky you might see some pretty epic square dancing costumes. And don’t forget that it is all real.

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11 thoughts on “Ah, the County Fair

  1. My second son was born not long after a visit to the fair. When my older 3 year old son saw the baby nursing for the first time he said, No, no baby, don’t bite Mama!” I explained that it was alright, that he wasn’t biting me but that he was drinking milk. My older son’s eyes widened and his mouth dropped open in astonishment. Finally he stuttered, “Like a PIG?!?!”

  2. Here in Maine we have the Common Ground Fair. It is billed as a “celebration of rural life”. Really, I can’t describe it….you should come! The baskets and yarns surpass even the livestock pens.

  3. JamieW, that IS hilarious! We have ventured into farming this year–jumped in with both feet, it seems sometimes, with 5 goats and 50ish chickens now. Startling reality indeed! I just know I’ll be explaining breastfeeding next summer to my 3 young ones in goat terms! So, don’t feel so bad about being compared to a pig! 🙂 At least there won’t be judges grading how I “freshen” !!!

  4. Being 9 months pregnant and feeling every bit of it in my hips, I am thankful tonight that there is no sign above my head!

  5. We went through the county fair back in July since are involved in 4-H. I love seeing all the men coming in for the livestock sale in their cowboy boots and hats. We live in a rural enough area that they don’t just wear these for show.

    We don’t show livestock at the fair, but we have great fun with entomology collections (insects), clothing construction, crochet, baking, wildlife drawings and photography. Of course we have to go out and enjoy the livestock barns too!

  6. My husband and I are taking our boys to the fair this evening! I love the livestock barns as well! Though we do indulge in the fair food! Thank you for increasing my anticipation!

  7. Our first experience with a county fair was on vacation in Virginia with our then-3 and 18-month old daughters. We were in Virginia attending an eating program with our eldest who needed to learn to eat by mouth and wean from the g-tube. Obviously, at that point food wasn’t her favorite. But that changed almost instantaneously when we got to the fair.

    The first thing our daughter saw as we meandered the booths was a group of ladies creating those great blue hair piles from spun sugar known as cotton candy. I mean, what kid can resist that sticky, crackly, fragile texture (especially as it drips down Daddy’s hair while he carries her on his shoulders)? The look on our daughter’s face was pure bliss — finally a food whose sole purpose was to make her laugh. Of course, we were sensible parents and didn’t just let her get strung out on sugar. We introduced her to the serious business of what to do with a giant foot-long corn dog (and plenty of mustard) too! Goodness, you could hold the thing up and wiggle it around like a pool noodle. Before we left, we even had her munching happily on a deep-fried fritter, and loving every artery-clogging moment of it.

    I admit being a very citified girl, I don’t care at all for the barn animal thing. And whenever we’ve had the chance to attend state fairs or such I cheerfully let my husband take the kids to feed the goats (eeew!) while I go shop or something. But I still love the picture we have of our eldest licking the goats — yes, licking them! — because she wanted to return their “kisses”. What a world!

  8. I so miss the Latah County Fair. No county fairs in our area out here, but I think of them every Fall with fond memories.

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