Do you love your county fair?
Have you been going to the fair since you were a child? If you live outside the city, is there something in the air that tugs at your fair heart strings? What is it that you first think of when you think of the fair? The animals? The Ferris Wheel? The food?
There's a booth at the Clark County Fair in Ridgefield, Washington that's run by the "church ladies." They draw some of the longest lines, because the pies are homemade, fresh daily and delicious! Once you have a piece of the church ladies' pie, the memory stays with you forever!
I love the Clark County fair and have been going to it since I was nine-years-old when we moved to the country.
Every summer, my parents used the fair as an enticement, with a list of extra chores I could do to make money for the rides, and trying to win stuffed animals and other must-have stuff kids want when they try to toss a poker chip onto a plate and have it stay there.
I don’t do the rides anymore, but I still love to watch others spin, scream, wave and occasionally puke up corn dog mixed with cotton candy.
We can see the fairgrounds when we drive I-5 and as soon as the carnival sets up the Ferris Wheel and the latest rides, my imagination begins to stir. Even before the fair opens, I can smell the aroma of fair food, which is one of the main draws for me. That delicious fragrance of grilled hamburgers, fried onions and deep fried corn dogs wafting through the air, carry tasteful memories. With a combination of the church ladies' pies and fresh, soft chocolate ice cream, I get my yearly quota of carbohydrates and grease.
In August when the fair is in the air, I have to get there. I can’t miss seeing the animals and almost every year a calf or a litter of piglets is born. I’ve never met a farmer I didn’t like and I’m always amazed at the dedication farm kids have taking care of the livestock. I think the fair to a 4-H member is like the academy awards to actors.They certainly deserve more than ribbons.
I was raised in the country and I’ve got manure in my nostrils and hay in my blood. I love the smell of barns, the sight of rich brown soil plowed in perfect rows, the contented cluck of chickens, the soothing sound of happy cows and the sheer joy of frisky horses.
When I was a child we lived on a ghost farm in Salmon Creek, just a mile from Salmon Creek Middle School. I never saw a ghost there, but it was like a ghost town that’s void of the life that had once made it a lively town. This farm was void of the animals and all the buildings stood vacant of farm life. That allowed me to experience the joy of being a farm girl without having to do the work!
My parents rented the farmhouse. The family that owned it had decided to sell off just the animals, because the property was too valuable to sell. With good renters in their house, they were off to Japan and we spent seven heavenly years “on that farm.”
Our ghost farm was surrounded by farm families with living farms and I grew up adoring them.
Because I’m an animal lover, I spent a lot of time at the farm next door to ours. The Hathaway farm had cows, chickens, goats, pigs and a horse. I loved to pretend I was a farmer! I remember one day I was grooming Bonnie, the Hathaway’s goat. As I brushed her, I got the child-like notion to cut her beard. I was never allowed to cut my doll’s hair or my younger sister’s for that matter, but I somehow knew Bonnie wouldn’t mind. I ran home and got Mom’s sewing scissors and proceeded to cut off most of the beard. I was right about Bonnie not minding, but I hadn’t thought about Mrs. Hathaway.
Soon after the grooming session, I was face-to-face with Mrs. Hathaway and my mom. In a very kind way, it was explained to me that I had narrowly missed cutting the skin that hangs in the middle of a goat’s beard. Had I cut that, poor Bonnie could have bled to death.
All this talk of animals brings me back to the reason I wrote this essay. Your local county fair is coming soon. I hope you get it on your calendar so you can get your fill of fair food, fun and farm life. See you there!
If you're wanting fun ideas for summer activities to do with your kids, click on the old barn door.