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A fair is a veritable smorgasbord

It was good to be back at the old Jackson County Fair, and boy, we were not alone in Carnyland euphoria. When Lane and I arrived, the hay field, er, parking area was nearly full. Giovanni the Honda resents this type of bucolic parking arrangement, but he bears my forays.

Anyway, the fair, the fair, with the Expo showing its more festive face than when we lined up for shots. This time we lined up for jumbo corn dogs slathered in mustard and a ride on the Ferris wheel, but I’m getting ahead of the story. We have a routine. Our MO is to arrive at our destinations hungry, but first we slowly wander through the exhibit building because it’s cool inside.

Creativity is on display in everything from 4-H table settings to quilts to canned kale. You heard me. Someone had fashioned a Steampunk rocket lamp from old sprinkler and refrigerator parts.

Einstein’s iconic image gazed from a distance, pieced into a large quilt. Up close, we saw only small squares—appropriately ingenious. You miss some great stuff if you don’t give Padgham Pavilion a peek and share the people’s contribution. Jars of huckleberry jam put me over the foodie embankment.

People are so great. We will stand in line forever at the promise of eventually filling our gullets. They should award plush animal prizes for patience. While enjoying my space in the interminable wait, I observed an active mass of humanity doing what it loves — having a good time. Parents pushing strollers, vendors planning an early retirement, and the steady throb of a band from a stage, with dancers cutting loose made me pause and reflect. I couldn’t help but gaze out at the smiling faces and pulsating throng and think to myself, “Thank God I’m vaccinated.”

After the dog and Diet Pepsi (they cancel one another out), we head to the barns for a look at the stock and a whiff of country life. We were disappointed that Krause barn stood vacant. Apparently, after judging, the cattle are now removed. No dodging cow pies. No reading over clever names like Big Mac or Petey. I understand from the critters’ standpoint. It’s hot and stressful.

The hogs, however, were in mid-sale. How I love the monotone music of the auctioneer’s patter, and the man in the white cowboy hat was selling pork, let me tell you. The pungency was as remembered. Lane and I enjoyed watching the hard-working youngsters tap their charges around the ring while the dollar signs mounted. $40 a pound? On the hoof? Wowza! I’m in the wrong business, but I doubt they’d allow me in to FFA at this stage of life.

Last stop — a ride, as in one. I’m happy to report the popularity for both Ferris wheels stretched long. It’s my favorite. This wait was longer than the jumbo dog line but parents with antsy children could wait it out so we could too. Finally, we drew lucky car No. 7. The parents behind us couldn’t win for trying. One little girl cried because she was too short to ride, while another boarded the car behind us and cried to get off. Ah, the irony. I rotated from our aerial perch, trying to comfort her, but she would have none of my faux mothering, poor thing.

It was nearly 11 p.m. and past my bedtime. We headed for the exit and the trek back to Giovanni. We had noted a couple of landmarks to help us navigate the sea of murky autos. But no former wait time equaled the anxious moments we spent hunting and gopher-hole-dodging to find the car. Trucks with their headlights trained on us, laughing I’m sure, made it worse. “Shades of the corn maze,” Lane muttered.

Giovanni has straw sticking from his undercarriage and he resents it. But we had a grand time. I returned with pig smell on my shoes and joy in my heart. Today’s the last day. Grab a buddy and take in the fair.

Peggy Dover is a freelance writer/author. Reach her at pcdover@hotmail.com.