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Sights, sounds and smells of the Fair

“A fair is a veritable smorgasbord.”

— Templeton, the rat from E.B. White’s “Charlotte’s Web”

There was such a crowd when we arrived for opening night of the Jackson County Fair that we had to park about two miles away and be helicoptered in.

Hot dog (actually, that came later), right off the bat I’m exaggerating. Must be a good day.

Anyway, Lane and I hurdled past several people half our age, OK, a few had the excuse of strollers or were trying to make the grade in fancy cowboy boots — appropriate, but tending to skedaddle sideways like an escaping doggie when the wearer accelerated.

We entered the gates of fair bliss and were welcomed by the aroma of true fair food, which is found only there and is included with the price of admission (the aroma, not the food).

We delayed satisfying ourselves and ventured inside the cool Padgham Pavilion exhibit building. We slapped off dust from the walking trail drive and admired local handiwork of young and old alike. I was eager to find the 4-H creative writing exhibits I had judged and see them in their be-ribboned glory.

We ogled beautiful quilts, baked goods (most samples tasted stale), art, photography and a squash. I’m not kidding. As far as our county fair being known for bountiful produce, forget it. It’s all grandstanding out at the growers market, I guess. There was a zucchini lying forlornly on a plate — sole representative of the vegetable community. Who knows, it may have been a holdover from last year. The 4-H kids had a few more garden specimens, but the tomato, as in one, was the size of a golf ball. We suspected grazing had occurred, as it sat conspicuously and without kin on a good-sized platter.

It’s fun to look at an 800-pound pumpkin, but it’s far too early in the season to see any pumpkins that large, although when we did make it to food row ... I won’t go there. But let me just forewarn, funnel cake has obvious adverse effects on the human condition.

We decided it might be wise to visit the market hog auction, also a favorite, as a prelude to dinner. As the FFA kids tapped their projects around the arena, bid spotters stood alert to help them earn as much per pound as possible for all the hard work, but Babe came to mind. Some of these animals tried to make for the swill bucket but were headed off at the pass. In lieu of escape, a few left their calling card, as if to say, “If this be my end, here’s my parting thought.” The aromas of that experience were the antithesis of our anticipated feast. Not having gas masks handy, we limited our time as mere spectators and made for chow alley where Lane inhaled a mushroom-Swiss burger in record time, and I had the nerve to eat a jumbo dog.

We chose one ride to say we did. It was a difficult decision between the merry-go-round and the Ring of Fire, so we compromised with the Ferris wheel, which was slow and easy and afforded a stunning panorama of our valley under a full moon.

I actually love our county fair and highly recommend taking it all in, from the wild animal exhibit to the beef judging to throwing a few bills at the carny games. It was heartening to see families come together for a few hours of fun.

Possibly my favorite part of opening night happened as we waited for our seat on the Ferris wheel. We watched as a loving grandfather lifted his physically disabled granddaughter from the bucket and the ride they’d just shared. I hope the memory lasts for us all.

See the fair. Today is the last day. Church day at the amphitheater begins at 9:30 a.m. The fair gates open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and admission is free.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer living in Eagle Point. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com and visit her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SouthernOregonJournal.