My Beautiful Wickedness


County Fair
August 19, 2007, 9:44 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

We’re off to the Altamont Fair today. John and Kid are snuffly; John doesn’t like fairs on his best day and this is not his best day, so I really appreciate him trying to summon the enthusiasm to go and have a good time in the company of two fair-crazy people.

Kid lives for fairs, which I’m guessing is a by-product of her early life in Iowa. One could go to the Johnson County fair for free every single day…and so we did, because we were a young couple who didn’t have much money and a toddler who liked cows and horses. (We brought a picnic and planned to eat out on a hill overlooking the show ring. Unfortunately, that hill was crawling alive with ticks. We wound up eating in a tent provided by a local Lutheran church.) We watched the 4-H dairy princess pageant, discussed steam threshers with old dudes in hats, watched the milking contest, and generally had a lovely time.

New York fairs, as you might expect, are different. There’s still plenty of ag stuff — New York has a lot of farmland, especially upstate where we are. However, the mentality is different. The emphasis is on paid entertainment, mostly, though they do have circuses that are rolled into the gate price and there are more strolling bands. Still, like most stuff up here, the commercial aspect outweighs the communal. Now that Kid’s older, it’s the bungee-bounce, the rockwall, and the rides that grab her attention more, but she’s still young enough that she’s eager to ride with me. I figure that this might be the last year for that.

It’s all going so fast. Next week, I’m back to school and another year starts. I need to take a moment to go stare at some really big pumpkins.

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2 Comments so far
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Has the Kid ever had a wish to raise animals of her own…? or is it just the mechanics of agriculture in general that are fascinating?

Just curious.

Comment by imfunny2

The emphasis is on paid entertainment, mostly, though they do have circuses that are rolled into the gate price and there are more strolling bands. Still, like most stuff up here, the commercial aspect outweighs the communal.

That’s just taking the fair back to its medieval roots. They are, in origin, completely commercial in nature: regional, national, or international gatherings of producers and purchasers, held in defined locations for a defined period, with their own courts to settle business disputes quickly, temporary ‘branches’ or early ‘banks,’ short-term housing, food, and entertainment, theives, pickpockets, prostitutes, you get the picture. The more communal institution back then was the market, which was also commercial, of course, but (since it was local and recurring) also the place for the community’s competitions and celebrations. With the demise of (most) great trade fairs (there are still some of them, but in the US they are mostly called conventions) and of regular local markets, the regional fair took on some of the more communal trappings that had earlier been characteristic of markets.

So enjoy the rides and the cotton candy secure in the knowledge that you are upholding tradition.

Comment by nm




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