Remembering The Fair
I suspect that I was motivated by the cold and the Christmas lights to engage in reflection, and to wax nostalgic, but while the kids were playing this afternoon, I found myself reading through old entries from another journal of mine, including one recording images of a trip to the State Fair.
It happens that the visit in question was a couple of years ago this past August, but it could have been recorded any time in the past 30 years that I've been attending the Great State Get-Together. Many things change in this world, but the State Fair changes very little, from year to year, to year.
So I offer this compendium of recollections to you, gentle men and ladies, for your pleasure and edification, and with apologies on style to (who else?) H.L. Mencken:
Overpriced hot dogs being consumed by extremely obese Fairgoers...A hog billed as the World's Biggest Pig, lying on his side in a pen full of smelly straw...Bored-looking youth milling about, slack-jawed, in front of the Alternative Rawk Musik Station booth...Parents pulling crying kids in red Radio Flyer wagons...Midway Carny barkers shouting out come-ons for their games of chance and skill...A field of caucasian faces, punctuated by an occasional brown visage...Hot and sweaty exhibition halls, with rows of vendors selling sandals, vegetable washers, pianos, velvet paintings, wooden clogs, tee shirts, sunglasses, gospel music CD's...Fair patrons trying desperately to stay cool, in various states of undress...Free copies of the day's city newspapers being handed out in plastic bags at the entrances...Beer-bellied middle-aged men wearing teeshirts with vulgar slogans...The twice-daily Fair Parade, headed by the Budweiser Clydesdales, with gymnists, clowns, marching bands, cheerleaders, with the Fair Queen and her Princesses atop their float, waving to the crowd...Political booths plastered with advertising for their candidates and positions of choice...A tired young lad walking hand-in-hand with his dreamy-eyed girlfriend, carrying the huge stuffed Pink Panther he just won for her at the Midway Dart Throwing booth...Mothers applying lotion to their children's puffy, sunburned bodies...Clusters of giggling tweenage girls, sending text messages to each other and calling each other on their cell phones...A sixty year-old tattooed man wearing a muscle shirt, tight lavender lycra shorts, brown socks and loafers...The Dairy Princess, sitting for hours in a large glass-windowed cooler, having her likeness carved in a 200-pound block of butter...Polka and square-dance groups, competing for prizes...Fifteen year-old girls caked with makeup, hoping to pass for seventeen, or maybe even eighteen...Attractive young couples snuggling on their first date...Older couples looking extremely tired of each other, and quite possibly on the verge of breaking up...Long, long lines at the cash machines and women's rest rooms...Fresh-faced 4H girls, with names like Cindy and Sandy, giving cow-milking demonstrations...Deep-fried cheese curds, corn dogs, foot long hot dogs, deep-fried Snickers bars, not-really-that-cold 3.2 beer, malts and milkshakes, mini-donuts, huge containers of soda pop, walleye-on-a-stick, everything and anything else on a stick...Antacids being handed out at the Health Building...Weary fairgoers carrying bulging plastic bagfuls of fliers and brochures that they picked up throughout the day...Yellowjackets and bees buzzing in and out of ubiquitous garbage cans...Size 18 middle-aged women spilling out of size 16 terry-cloth shorts and tops...Geezer Rock and Country bands, playing the Grandstand to 20,000 fans...An out-of-tune mariachi band...The screams of kids and adults, as they come down the giant yellow slide...A man carrying the broom and mop set he just bought for the Best-Price-Ever...Bad art mingled with great at the juried exhibition, in the Fine Arts Building...Blue Ribbons, Best-In-Show and Honorable-Mention tags hanging on sweaters, dresses, pies, woodworking, lamps, dolls...A dizzying array of brightly-colored flashing neon lights punctuating the cocophonous din of the Midway rides, late at night...A brigade of weary-looking men and women picking up trash.
Can't you just feel it?