Friday, August 17, 2012

A visit to a true country fair

After a long hectic week, I took my three daughters, plus a friend of Middlest, Mac, to the Wyoming County Fair. We packed up snacks and drinks for the long, treacherous journey from safe suburbia to the wild farmland of Wyoming County. The terror was so horrible that Littlest tossed her cookies in the yard. I was worried about her health, but she said, “Don’t worry dad, they were raisin cookies and the raisins looked like flies.”

With eager anticipation, I watched the skyline of Rochester recede in the rearview mirror and the rolling hills loom in front. As we drove down the road, the four youngsters played the alphabet game, looking for letters in signs and license plates, moving from A to Z. Before the game started there was great discussion as to the rules. Finally we reached Z, and the best letter spotter in the van caught a Z on a passing license plate. I am still basking in the glory of that amazing moment.

The fair is an agricultural wonder of the world. We strolled past displays of gardening skills, judged by the 4-H. People, who take gardening seriously, brought in samples of their produce, not to be eaten, but simply to be judged on appearance. There was blue ribbon winning: luscious green eggplant; vibrant, deep red, tomatoes; bright, sunny summer squash, and gorgeous, smooth, brown rocks.

The main attraction of the fair, other than cotton candy, is looking at other peoples pets. For a few years, Eldest had guinea pigs as pets. At the fair, people displayed their guinea pigs. However, being a strong agricultural community and wanting to be as scientifically correct as possible, they call them cavies. In the building with the cavies are also rabbits, ducks and chickens. These are all reasonable pets and I enjoyed seeing them.

The fair has an entire barn for pigs. When we got there most of the pigs were gone. Many of them apparently had plans for Sunday dinner. Specifically they were Sunday dinner. The next barn was the sheep barn, which was also half empty. This was due to the unfortunate number of families who do not like ham for Sunday Dinner.

The last and largest barn, complete with arena and grandstands, is the cow barn. It is a well established fact that normal children want a puppy for a pet. The good people of Wyoming county are a practical bunch and when their children ask for puppies, practicality kicks into overdrive. The practical parents sit their children down and explain that puppies have no useful purpose other than looking cute and making people ooh and ahh, and that is the best they do. Most of the time puppies are yapping, which is simply practicing to bark as a mature dog, and pooping and peeing on the floor, which always needs cleaning up.

The practical parents then tell their grief stricken children not to cry, but that they have purchased a pet for the child. Whereupon they hand them the halter rope to a three thousand pound bovine. They then tout the advantages of owning a cow: skim, 2%, whole milk, and free fertilizer. Not only that, but a house with a cow in the yard is 75% less likely to be targeted for a robbery.

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