Wednesday, August 12, 2009

state fair

What could be more American than a state fair. They even made a musical about it. We had our share of the all-American activity today and loved every minute of it.

It’s been a few years since we’ve been to the fair, but for some reason today just seemed like the perfect day to renew our relationship with it. Clear skies and temps in the 70’s meant a perfect summer day for fair going. The fact that my meds have been working so much better encouraged me to give it a try, knowing that I would have the energy to make a day of it.

The state fair is at once both exciting and tacky, with smells of cotton candy and charcoal barbecues, incense and manure all mixing in the sunshine. The sounds of bands and singers, pitchmen and livestock all stirred together is a unique blend not found anywhere else. The exposition center offered fairgoers every imaginable trinket, doodad, and worthless gizmo conceived by man along with a few actually useful objects at amazing prices only for the lucky fairgoer. Such deals for stuff you never knew you needed. The pitchmen with their practiced spiels and stale jokes tried shamelessly to fleece you out of the few bucks in your pocket. Great entertainment as long as you kept your wallet secured in your back pocket out of easy reach. But, man, I wanted that set of knives that could carve through steel and still stay sharp enough to skin a peach.

And where else can city slickers like us get close enough to a cow or a pig or a horse or a sheep to touch them and get a close-up whiff of their essence. We came away from the livestock barns with a far greater appreciation for those t-bones and hams that are stacked in the supermarket.

We watched a judging of some cows in the livestock pavilion and couldn’t figure out what the judge could see that was different among them. I think they were Black Angus cows (only because they were all black). He seemed to think that there was a considerable difference when it came to withers and flanks and shapes of their ribs. All I kept looking for were ribeyes and sirloins and decided that a cow that big would fill a couple freezers and keep us in protein for a long time.

When we visited the swine barn we expected to be overwhelmed by nasty piggy smells, but were pleasantly surprised at the clean air. Pigs don’t smell. Who knew? They do make rather disgusting sounds, though. Again we watched a group of pigs being judged by a guy who could see amazing differences among them, even though they all looked exactly alike to my untrained eye. Somehow he was able to select the best one to be sent off to the butcher shop. Not a contest you necessarily want to win if you’re a pig.

After having our fill of critters (we also cruised through the sheep barn) we needed to get off our feet for a rest, so we sought out music venue where we could enjoy some music while resting. We wandered into an area that promised some Blues, although the band was not on stage just then. But I’m glad we waited for them to start playing again. I don’t know the name of the band, but they were smokin. We sat there for a long time listening and left reluctantly when the long day finally caught up to us. There was only one more thing left to do to make our fair visit complete.

This being the Wisconsin state fair, a visit to the dairy pavilion is a requirement that might actually be mandated by law. You’ve never seen so much cheese in your life. Mountains of it in all the different colors and flavors that cheese can come in. Milk everywhere. And the greatest treat of them all---the world renowned Wisconsin State Fair creampuff. Any visit to the fair is incomplete without a creampuff getting slobbered all over your face. Licking your fingers is the accepted method of cleaning up. I really think they should give away those creampuffs and just charge for napkins. They’d make a fortune.

So having participated in the required creampuff ritual, our blood sugar dangerously raised, we happily made our way out of the fairgrounds after one of the best summer days we’ve had in along time. I can’t wait until next year’s fair. I’m there.

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