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Going to the fair

Agriculture.com Staff 08/29/2007 @ 8:08am

My wife and I went to the fair. I love fairs, although there are things I don't understand.

First, what's the deal with the folks who run the rides and concession stands? I'd like to see the job application notice for the workers who travel with the carnival.

"Wanted: Employees to run carnival rides and concession stands. Must be willing to work long hours in the hot sun and mosquito infested evenings. Successful applicants should have a maximum of 21 teeth. Bad tattoos will score bonus points; greasy clothes will be provided."

My wife told me I couldn't use that line, even though it made her laugh out loud. She pointed out that it was mean and unfair. I thought about that...and agreed. But really, how many traveling carnival workers are going to read this column AND be motivated enough to find where I live and come over and beat me up? I doubt if there'd be more than one or two, and, if that's the case, it'd probably be worth it.

Another thing I don't understand is the clothes people wear to the fair. People you'd never see without a suit or nicely pressed khakis will show up at a county fair wearing black socks, sandals, shorts that show off their knobby knees and a t-shirt that says, "I'm with stupid." You're not invisible, people; I still know who you are.

And it's not just grown-ups who have odd personal habits. I know a guy who spent a week as a chaperone at the state fair, sleeping in a dorm with no air conditioning, along with a couple hundred teenage boys who didn't see much of a need for showers or changes of clothing AND who'd spent their days caring for their hogs and cattle. That was a year ago -- he seems fine now, except for a little twitch, and an occasional nightmare.

Personally, I go to the fair for the food. I have changed my habits a little -- I used to just tuck a napkin in my collar when I went through the gate and munch steadily until I waddled back to my car a few hours later.

I just don't have the capacity I used to have, so now I wander around for an hour or so, scoping out the various booths, and then plan my menu -- Italian sausage from a traveling booth, then maybe some fries from the 4-H kids, perhaps a piece of raspberry pie from the church ladies, followed with some mini doughnuts to eat on the way home, all washed down with a malt from the dairy farmers. I still probably waddle a little, but I do feel good about my new-found moderation.

Of course, the best thing about fairs has nothing to do with food or clothes. The best thing is watching a succession of red-haired kids rushing up to their father to beg money for the climbing wall or meeting a friend and hearing a hilarious story about the pleasures and perils of vacationing with six grandchildren at the same time -- particularly the part where the grandchildren learn that grandmas know bad words, too.

It's about smiling at dirty-faced babies and admiring the award winning goats, chickens and giant zucchinis. It's about leisurely conversations with friends, talent shows and corn dogs, mosquitoes, sunburns and thunderstorms.

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