Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Deep Fried America

I went to a County Fair today. I have not attended such an event in many many many years. It was a strange and interesting experience. When it was first suggested to me as an activity I set out to ask people why they went to the fair. Just to get an idea of what they found interesting.

I remember attending a few in my youth and recall lots of buildings filled with farm animals. A field surrounded by bleachers where they had tractor pulls and activities that involved things like chasing greased pigs. Various carnival rides and game booths with cheap and smarmy prizes that were difficult to win. And lots of other displays of varying interest.

Probably the best thing I ever found at a Fair was a copy of a Congressional Record when I was about twelve years old. I was fascinated by politics--and in those days before the internet and cable t.v. it wasn't as easy to learn what was going on in Washington in any detail. I remember being thrilled that I could take a copy for free. I spent months reading bits and pieces trying to comprehend all the florid language.

The results of my informal poll were that people my age went for the food, the flower show and to see the arts and crafts displays. That seemed reasonably interesting, so I agreed to go.

Today is the first day of any real relief from this terrible hot humid heat wave. It sounds odd to say that it was only in the mid-eighties--but that and a touch of a breeze are as good as it has been all month. In any case, a fine day to go to the fair.

Although parking was free, it cost $5. to enter the grounds. We were given a pamphlet, our hands were stamped with a green circle and we were on our own.
We strolled past a long line of small trailers selling food. Food of every kind and combination. Some trailers were decorated, some had seating for their guests.

As for the variety of food offerings--think of any meat or vegetable or sweet and add 'deep fried' and that was the menu. There were some odd variations though.
Deep-fried Pepsi......the concept truly frightens me and I didn't venture to try it. Too expensive for experimentation. Another food offering had already made the local news. A hamburger placed between two custard donuts. I tried to imagine the combination of tastes--it only made me nauseous.

The bewildering variety of offers were also confusing because price postings were limited and every possiblity seemed to have multiple options. For example: A dinner basket was $2. more than a dinner plate, but no one seemed able to explain the difference other than 'you get a basket'. I couldn't understand why a basket was more valuable than a plate, so I finally gave up. Meanwhile we passed the opportunity to meander off the main walkway to visit various barns of livestock and farm animals and see the prize winners. I found it kind of sad that they were selling 'pork burgers' just fifty feet from where the pigs were on display, and the cows surely could smell the hamburgers being offered just downwind. I'm not a vegetarian, it just seemed downright insensitive.

We finally selected a spot, I ordered a sausage sandwich, chips, and a small pepsi to drink. $14..............apparently I misunderstood their confusing menu board. Too late--the food was edible but not remotely worth the price. We wandered more but never found most of the things we were looking for. I never saw any arts and crafts, or flowers or anything but junk. And booth after booth where people wanted to sell me their version of politics, religion..........and more mundane offerings such as water softeners, lawn mowers and screened porches.

Our pamphlet directed us to such delights as the "Lamb Carcass on Hoof Show" and the 'Swine Pig Racing' (?I thought pigs were swine?). Or we could take in the 4H displays--farm children's projects and a "Traveling Reptile Show". I was kind of disappointed that I will miss the "Festival of the Forest People". That will take place tomorrow while I'm at work. I have no idea what it is, but it sounds more intriguing than the "Open Goat Show" or the "Antique Wheel Exhibit".

After another hour we decided that no fair was complete without elephant ears. These are a deep fried dough slathered with butter and sugar. Delicious...and actually worth the $4.

The band was loud and irritating and the hordes of unsupervised children running all over were no fun either. My companions weren't interested in going on any rides, playing any games, or walking far enough to see the flower displays. After a bit more wandering, we called it a day.
$23. spent, three hours spent...and not much to show for it.
I think it will be many many many years before I go to another County Fair.

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