Going to the Fair

Things I love cont’d…

Yesterday my daughter and I went to the Evergreen State Fair.

I love going to fairs. I love the smell of deep-fried everything, mouth-melting cotton candy, spicy barbecue and hot pavement.

I love the sound of clashing honkytonk tinkle, the shrieks and screams drifting from the midway, the hoarse patter of gap-toothed barkers urging everyone to try their luck on the rigged games…Someone has to be lucky today.

I love to wander through the barns of livestock that are pampered and brushed. I love seeing all the weird breeds of domestic animals that are part of farming and ranching lives that I don’t understand at all. I love the feeling that I’ve dipped into another world that is as vibrant and alive and alien as anything in a sci fi novel.

And the people watching! That is the best.

Young women sashaying by on high heels with besotted boyfriends trailing behind. (How can anyone visit a fair in high heels? In good walking shoes, I’m limping after a few hours – clearly sturdier women than I!). Kids’ eyes permanently pop at the lights and rides and excitement. I watch a toddler radiating bliss as he gums through a corn dog. Old people with wheelchairs and oxygen tanks get another taste of vitality. Good-humored stand-in-line chatting with people whom I will never cross paths with again fills the day.

We examine exhibits of perfect produce, row upon row of skill poured into the land to produce food. Jars of canned vegetables and jams. We pore over collections ranging from all things Minion to WWII memorabilia. We see demonstrations of spinning, wood carving, sewing, chess, stained glass making, and fishing. We chat with rangers about forest management and noxious weeds.

Vibrancy, accomplishments, hard-learned skills shaping the lives of thousands upon thousands of people.

And one of the things I love most about fairs, is that they weren’t created from the good times. No one much was commemorating how life is easy and fun. All the way back to the medieval markets with jugglers and players, fairs have celebrated survival despite famine, disaster and disease. Sure they are a market and a chance to let off some happy steam. A breather from the next big troubles. But they thrive and the throngs show up every time.

A fair is a celebration of what we’ve accomplished – intense reminders of the effort to making something useful and beautiful despite the everyman’s and everywoman’s hard scrabble lives.

So we went to the fair – the relentless exuberance of life gathered together. Food, noise, laughter and skills on display. I love it.