Blogsam and Jetsam

Flotsam is the part of the wreckage of a ship or its cargo found floating on the water. Jetsam is cargo or parts of a ship that are deliberately thrown overboard, as to lighten the ship in an emergency, and that subsequently either sinks or is washed ashore. This is my personal blog version of the above. Loot freely.

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Location: The Hinterlands, Upstate NY

I'm annoyed that the world is going crazier faster than it used to be. But it's interesting to watch.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

The County Fair

It had been more than twenty years since I'd been to a county fair and the Ducklings had no idea what I was talking about so we went to the Hinterlands County Fair last weekend.


The fairgrounds were about forty-five minutes away and aside from "animals and rides and food" my kids didn't have a clue what to expect. We parked at the first place I saw which was a big yard with a hand-lettered sign saying "Park all day $3.00" put there by a redheaded kid who replied to my "we pay you?" with "yeah I gotta get my truck fixed" even though he didn't look old enough to drive.


The Ducklings were completely underwhelmed by the parking and the fact that they couldn't see anything "festive" from the road so I messed with their heads further by starting them off in the 4-H Exhibition Building and making them look at aprons, pajama bottoms, woodworking and animal-science posters for a while...the Big Two had nothing but scathing comments for that. You might be interested to know that 4-H seems largely unchanged in thirty years---sure they're doing pajama bottoms instead of drawstring skirts but the apron is intact, the 10x10 gardening is intact and the chocolate chip cookies are still the same.


Livestock barns next...it was absolutely uncanny how much the poultry all hated Eldest Daughter. I mean not just a little but enough so that every single bird in the barn got all edgy and every exhibitor straightened up in his or her seat to see what was messing with their critters. Weird! Youngest thought it was all just great but the Big Two weren't that impressed with our feathered friends...except the big tom turkey in full display.


Turns out Middle Duckling saw a friend of his in the poultry barn but didn't stop to chat--typical guy. We did rabbits briefly and were sad because they reminded us of Candy but there were also some HUGE giant rabbits which were pretty impressive...as big as a beagle for sure. They reminded me of that story from England.


The Midway didn't open till noon so we poked around the exhibition buildings which are the same everywhere. The Hinterlands County Fairgrounds were exactly like the State Fairgrounds of my childhood but on a much smaller scale...except for the prices. Large lemon shake-ups are now $4.50 which I thought was a lot, but given that they were $1.10 in 1983 I suppose it's not too bad. I finally tried a Blooming Onion which is way more food than even two people can manage and not as great as they look in the Outback Steakhouse ad but worth the one-time novelty value. Got some fudge too thinking we'd save it for the family members who stayed home but we ended up eating most of it.


While I was eating (or rather "eating on"; never got more than about a sixth through it) the onion, the kids checked out a T-shirt shop with great tie-dye mostly because Eldest ran up to me saying "Mom, MOM! There's a T-shirt slogan I just HAVE to have!" which turned out to be I may be a cold heartless bitch but at least I’m GOOD at it!


I let the kids have a highly-supervised but technically independent shopping experience in the T-shirt booth where they all got souvenir shirts---Eldest got her slogan on a blue tie-dye, Son got a neat quasi-caduceus on red and Youngest got dolphins on multicolor tie-dye. The shopkeeper was a guy about my age who looked startlingly like an ex-boyfriend of mine (but wasn't, praise be.) He was an awfully good sport about my indecisive Youngest Child and did in fact notice Mama Hen keeping watch with her worm--I mean onion--from the doorway.


Found the wildlife conservation booth run by the family of Eldest's Best Friend--I admire them no end for being willing to put their livelihood where their ethics are but it looks like kind of a tough way to make a living. The mom was chatting up a potential client so we didn't stay but instead went to the "Antique Farming" building nearby. It was a real log cabin about the size of a one-car garage and full of the kind of farm implements that would fit therein--I didn't recognize any of the freestanding stuff other than it looking horse-powered but I was very much reminded of a scene from Prodigal Summer where the protagonist explores an old barn attic.

There were hay hooks and woodworking tools and all sorts of iron things and even Eldest thought it was reasonably interesting. The exhibit was being run by an older guy with a beard who perked right up when I made sure to point out the rigid ox yoke to the children as "the Wii of the year ONE thousand" and how important it was. When Youngest Duckling asked "but why?" I explained "two bulls could work together without choking themselves so you could plow more land and not starve to death in the winter." Eldest tends to poke gentle fun at "Mom's into all that farming stuff" but I think even she gets that we need to remember our agricultural roots…no I won't start quoting Animal, Vegetable, Miracle or anything.

Once our bearded host saw he had a Live One he went over and pointed out another ox yoke made by an acquaintance of his which had the improvement of a wooden turnkey latching system and "washer" for the hoop parts. He and I had a brief discussion about how farming had changed wherein he said "used to be you could work 25, 30 acres and make a living at it; now you have to have hundreds of acres and contracts with this one and that one..." so I shared that my grandparents had an entire farming career on 40 acres in central Indiana. Nice to pay homage to one's roots. It was only on the way out that I clued in that the old man was probably some flavor of Amish.


So after the antique farming implements we did another loop of the grounds wating for the Midway rides to open at noon. Found the public restrooms on the agricultural side to have three nice shower stalls one of which still smelled like Dial soap from a recent user; that was sort of neat. The women's room also had an attendant busily sweeping with her less-than-two-months-old baby girl in a carseat on the counter and a tip jar nearby--Youngest and I paid a buck total to use the facilities and I considered it money well-spent.


We skipped the "famous pig races" to get back to the Midway then turned out to be THE FIRST people on the Ferris wheel because Middle Duckling, having seen many but never been on one, was really keen to ride. (You've already seen the good picture from the top.) It was a good carnival company (Gillette) but damn the rides were expensive---$3 per person meant $12/ride so we did the toboggans (really good superfast ones) and called it a day…but not before I purchased my first "funnel cake" which is a more Northeastern form of fried dough than the "elephant ears" with which I grew up. Of course it was loaded with additives one could taste with every bite but since I'd never had one before it was worth the indigestion. The guy working the booth couldn't take his eyes off Eldest; it was a wonder he didn't deep-fry a couple of fingers.

A great time was had by all…we're considering hitting the nearby county fairs when they occur. Good chat on the way home which started with the Darkmoon Faire, worked its way through medieval Europe and ended up with how our Hinterlands County Fair is the current living incarnation of something dating back to the ox-yoke-equals-high-tech days...my kids seem to be getting the connection.

2 Comments:

Blogger Mel said...

I like to go to the Common Ground Fair, which is a huge organic fair here in Maine in September. It's a very county fair experience, without the midway rides. And funnel cake is one of my must-have items at the fair.

When I was in school in MN, the school was right next to the MN State Fairgrounds (5th largest in the country, so they say). The food was *the* reason to go. Deep-fried cheese curds with cold beer, huge fudge brownies and an all-you-can-drink milk bar, cream puffs and mini donuts. It was a serious eating experience.

August 08, 2007 7:37 PM  
Blogger SamD said...

Ya GOTTA have the rides...they're why we're thinking of traveling.

August 09, 2007 7:15 AM  

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