The Fair

Every year our little local town, a small town with a big heart, hosts a local fair. show-032

The Fair has been going on for more than 160 years now.  The side shows are deliciously gaudy and the food is inedible on the street,  but that is what it is all about and there is a whole hall filled with pickles and cakes and breads and vegetables for the judging ( I hope to visit them tomorrow) , but there is a charm and deep local presence that makes this a very special day.  show-015The people who show their animals with such pride are also nodding with gratitude to a fecund  past filled with glory and vigor.  There is an iron clad connection straight back through almost 200 years of the very same event.  This is where small town America will not give up.  It has taken a beating but refuses to lie down and sigh. show-008The young people show their animals joyously and are sure of their place in this world, one cannot help but smile and encourage them. show-006




Even when you do not win at the side shows,  it is all good.

It could be worse.

There is a rightness about this summer day. When you can just sit and watch your world go by and be completely at home with it. It must be truly wonderful to live in the town you grew up in. Where you know everyone.  To belong.


I hope you have a lovely day.



56 Comments on “The Fair

  1. Wish they were all still like that, instead of being about cheap toys that fall apart, nasty food and expensive show bags. I love the preserves, the cakes, the bread, the knitting, crochet, lacemaking, quilting and embroidery. I marvel at the huge prize vegetables, the enormous gerberas, the wilting pansies. That, and the livestock and poultry sections, are what a country fair or show should be about., rather than the noisy rides.

    • Oh i should have taken a photo for you of the library quilt, they have a raffle with a quilt as a prize every year. It is beautiful this year.. c

  2. Yeah, we used to go to the Agricultural shows waaaayy back. Now they are all Fong Kong and nasty food and sad animals,hot and thirsty in mucky stalls. Avoid them like the plague now. Did you perchance find a cow for the Farmy? Our temps that were warming up have dipped into single digits again this weekend – seems like winter is not ready to move on yet. Laura

  3. Wow, that last picture brought me right back to the local carnival of over fifty years ago in my small town in NY where everyone knew everyone else. Good times 🙂

    • Ha when I first read this I thought it said “heart and soul and many flies” still apt I guess!

  4. Love county fairs but I missed ours this year. State fair in Iowa an Minnesota are big deals and we real like to go to them. So many things to see and do !!! Thanks for the great experience today!

  5. I don’t normally go all political on blogs but these are the people I wish the government would align themselves with, not the Mosantos of the world. They should come to the fairs and see the people, the stories, the history, and the hard work that happens every day. Because without these people we are sunk.

    • I could not agree more. The animals are beautiful and their stalls lovely and clean. Many people have the view that all farmers do not treat their animals well, but the care taken here proves otherwise.. it would be a good lesson for the lobby that is trying to destroy the little farmers of rural america.. c

  6. Our county fair, the one I grew up showing at, won’t even allow a carnival. It is about the 4-Hers and their projects. Very family-oriented. Luckily, I know many of the families. NOSTALGIA!

    • Yes, our little rides do add colour, but the real fair is under the shade where the animals are..that is where the people gather.. c

  7. I remember going to the fair near our small town in the Central Valley of California and having a lot of fun .

  8. in The UK there are lots of agricultural fairs where people bring animals and produce and there is always the entertainemnet of the Merry-go -round which is my favourite with the painted horses, the mirrors, the lights and most of all the hurdy-gurdy brings back wonderful childhood memories of candy floss and sticky things……I am pleased that you had a good day, relax once in a while

  9. in my younger,prediabetic days, a group of us used to get together,at the food booths in our tiny, doddridge county,wv county fair.we would order 1 of everything, cut it up and everyone got a bite.we tryed almost everything, we called it”eating our way thru the fair.”did it for years.
    most memorable, but not repeted thing was the dill pickle sno cone,my favorite is the italian sausage with peppers and onions.greesy, but good.
    now the county fair has grown, too commercial, too crowded. no local orginizations selling home made pies and icecream ,so i dont go anymore

    • should clarify, italian sausage sandwich, not italian sausage sno cone.
      i really should proofread, and capitilize letters, but that would involve useing 2 fingers on keyboard

      • I was sitting here puzzling over the italian sausage snow cone when you write part two, How adventurous your food sounded i thought!.. great idea and great memories too i am sure, meant to answer your query the other day. The Old Codger is great, he is having a wonderful weekend sitting on the seat outside the bank catching up with other great old people. He love the fair and eats his way around each church stand for the whole weekend.. the young mother took all her children and shifted to phoenix..

  10. So so sweet…you’ve said two things that strike me hard. One is about children showing their animals and knowing their place in the world. The second, related, has to do with being in a town where you grew up. I often wonder what that feels like…I used to sort of think it would be boring to have “stayed”…but I didn’t realize what I realize now about deep roots and what it’s like not to have them. I’m more like a dandelion seed…

    • same, international rolling dandelion seeds.. there is probably a law against dandelion seeds being taken across international borders you know!.. c

  11. That sheep was as smooth as vanilla ice cream. Just beautiful. Every year I say let’s go to the fair –either in Springfield or up in Wisconsin. We never have mainly because the crowds on the highway are overwhelming. But I know I’d love a fair. I was surprised how many cattle there were, considering this is a small town!

  12. Ireland has a long-standing tradition of country fairs and agricultural shows stretching back more than 250 years. Hiring fairs, where young farm labourers and servant girls were selected for work, were common throughout the 19th and the early years of the 20th centuries.

    The hiring fairs were a humiliating experience for many young workers. Labourers were forced to line up while farmers scrutinised them for their working potential. The fairs were normally held twice a year, once in spring and once in autumn, and usually coincided with the buying and selling of horses.

    Bizarrely, inspecting workers teeth was a common practice, suggesting most farmers viewed their potential employees in much the same way as they saw their horses. Most hiring fairs died out around the time of the First World War.

    Over the past 30 years, the fairs have suffered from a less than flattering image. As the agricultural content of the fairs declined, many country fairs gained a reputation for tacky bric-a-brac stalls, dodgy merchandise and greasy food sold by ‘incomers’ from the back of vans.

    Such a pity.

  13. I didn’t even know there were fairs like this anymore! I generally avoid our local fair because it’s just a bunch of bad music and crazy rides that aren’t enjoyable. You’re so lucky to get this experience and get to live in a place that still has these kinds of fairs.

  14. I love these candid people shots at the fair. We have Native American Fair here this week. I could hear a Native American flute being played in the distance this morning when I let the dogs out. The soothing tones took me back – to what I do not know but it was a feeling of long ago – perhaps a past life? Some things of these festivals and celebrations of small town (or region) are wonderful traditions that I love to experience every year.

  15. Luckily our county fairgrounds is only 5 miles away down a country road. I go to see the animals and handiwork of the locals. Years ago I entered baked goods and even won a few ribbons for my efforts. Indian fry bread is a big thing here (funnel cakes), but things are changing, too. Too commercial nowadays, except for the 4H kids and their animals. Small farmers are the backbone of our country. Big Ag is trying to destroy them for more profits.

  16. I have loved going to our town fair every year since I can remember. It was sad to miss it when we lived in NH! And also sad in a way not to “belong” as you said. I can imagine with you being so incredibly far from your home town that you feel that way as well. And I think small towns can sometimes make it worse! I’m happy to know the piggie’s ears were just nothing but a little snip and not to make them cute for spectators. I had to ask though, you know how that is! I always cringe when people asked us if our dog’s tails are docked. You never know what kind of a response you’re going to get when you say yes. But they must be because they’re long and they snap and break in the woods while hunting. I would rather them go through a quick snip at birth than a broken tail and the pain later in life.

    Those sheep shearers always amaze me for some reason. And the wool just looks so pristine. Love the fair! Lovely photos! 🙂 ~ April

  17. The last time I went to our county fair…the Los Angeles County Fair…was probably about 20 years ago. I refuse to go back. It’s massive! You need a 2-day pass to see everything, and it’s so crowded, and expensive, and more commercial than anything. I much prefer the tiny county fair where my dad and grandmother live, where the highlights are piglet racing, Bingo, and guessing when a very pregnant cow will give birth. (Or maybe I just have a hidden penchant toward gambling!) Where you’re very likely to find the name of a friend or neighbor on a jar of peaches or a blue-ribbon formal place setting, and animals destined for the freezer are pampered and pristine.

  18. I love funnel cakes, too. And what you have written should be put in your small town paper just as you have written it. It says it all.

  19. We don’t have ‘Fairs’…..we have The Show, usually prefaced by the town’s name and sometimes Agricultural as well. South the Royal Sydney Show and north is the Brisbane Ekka. My home town has a wonderful Show, complete with the rides, sticky food and show bags, but also a great agricultural section, where the best of produce and animals are exhibited. And school children are still entering their handwork, or biggest pumpkin or competing in the show jumping (horses), there’s the sheep dog trials, which I never miss, and the Grand Parade, where all the animals and their proud owners do a couple of laps of the arena. Many people in this area go back to first settler days… meet people with the same name as local roads, parks and buildings, it gives such a sense of continuity…. not me, I’m a dandelion seed too, blown about from place to place, although taken root here. I loved visiting your fair with you today.

  20. I have been to many Fairs and Shows and they are always fun for just the reasons you highlighted. Have you ever seen more burnished and beautiful animals? Trimmed and cleaned to within an inch of their lives! Lovely post Celi!

  21. I went yesterday to our local fair, the Brisbane Ekka, which has been going for about as long as your fair. It is huge and full of all sorts of rubbish, but the well loved animals are there and children having fun. It is not all about side show alley and show bags. It is often the only place where city children can see farm animals and I think it is great. Big or small, long live the fair!

  22. Our county fair is where all of our FFA and 4h’ers show their projects. Only students can show animals. It’s where a lot of scholarship money is earned too. And like John, I gots to have me some funnel cake!! We too have the carnies and such but it’s a huge deal for our little county, in fact the school districts cancel classes on the Friday of the fair because so many kids are absent in order to show their animals and baked goods. For me the county fair embodies that small town American spirit and everyone rallies together for the good of the community and the students.

  23. Wonderful snapshot of your local fair, and interestingly the images could be from the local country show, a version as Nanette describes, we go to on the mid-north coast of Australia. Where there is a good mix of old and new. I love the rural growing, baking etc areas, and hope one day to enter [and win] something myself. I love that even if you don’t have those local roots, you can pause, say hello and have a chat 🙂

  24. Having lived around the world and mostly in urban areas I have not oft been able to witness the scenario you show and describe. Am SO glad you had a day out with likeminded people and possibly even made some connections! I have been shocked to read in the number of daily/weekly newsletters of US origin I receive how the small farmers, at least in some states like Michigan, almost seem to be persecuted for trying to do their ‘own thing’. I certainly hope that is not the case Down Under . . . ? Am smiling about mention of the Sydney Royal Easter Show: have not been for ages but that huge venture methinks is a pretty commercial one these days: not a small and comfortable and cheap day out amongst neighbours 🙂 !

  25. I grew up going to the Norfolk County Fair and Horse Show in Simcoe, Ontario. There are 4H-ers (I was one a way back), animals and poultry of every kind, artwork, needlework, baking, preserving, fruit/veg/flower competitions, horse racing, concerts, smash-em-up derbies, carnival rides, carnival food, exhibits of everything you can imagine (and some things you would never have imagined). And it runs for a week – a whole glorious week! On the first day of the fair, a Tuesday, all the schools in the County close – at least I hope they still do – and it’s a total blast! High school competitions in tug of war and cheerleading, and fun – fun – fun. The last day of the fair is our Thanksgiving Monday and it’s a sort of sad day because by then we know the harvest is over and winter is just around the corner. I haven ‘t been there in a few years, always seems that something conspires to keep me busy, but I think this year is the year I’ll take the grandkids to. If you want to know more check it out here

    If we keep going to the local fairs, keep supporting local farmers and keep speaking out about agriculture in the best ways we can, then perhaps there will be fairs for many years to come.

    I hope everyone can get to a local fair.
    Chris S in Canada

  26. one of the things they used to do that drew a big crowd here was,cow patty bingo.a sucessful fundraiser for the ffa kids
    winner had the numbered square in small field,laid out like a bingo card,that a wandering old jersy cow,panzy, did her business on.
    occasionally there was a split decision, 2 squares involved.
    the crowd going wild, cheering the cow when she get to their area, or calling her to the other side,if thats where your square was.
    but last few yrs, our local fair went too commercial to do fun things like that.

  27. I am super curious to know how the Martriarch likes your photo collection from the fair…

  28. I love small country town fairs – and the little town parades. One of the things I miss about visits back to the country. I am glad we were able to let my daughter experience those when she was little – she does remember and maybe will scout some out for her own eventually. The big ones are something, too, but the small locals ones have a quiet unhurried charm

  29. Cecilia, you captured the heart and soul of our ‘little town’ – what lovely photographs and kind words. As mayor it makes me even prouder to see others appreciate why living in a small town is so special.

  30. Reblogged this on Barbara Hahn's Blog and commented:
    I’m so proud to share this from THEKITCHENSGARDEN… Cecilia captures in photographs and words what makes our ‘small town’ so special… Barbara

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