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Thread: The county fair

  1. #1
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    The county fair

    We used to go to our annual county fair on a semi-regular basis between the ages of say 6-18. The big draws for me were always the rides, the occasional indulgence in healthy fair food (elephant ears, cotton candy, fried sugar-coated lard, etc), and later on the seeming surplus of 16 year old blonde sluts in attendance. The whole agrarian thing was kinda lost on me. I imagine this was and probably still is the case for the vast majority of urban and suburbanites in attendance. Who got the blue ribbon for best apple pie? Biggest hog? Largest pumpkin? Best trained dog? Meh, I couldn't have cared less. I haven't been to the county fair in decades, but now that Junior has entered the picture I find myself considering the matter once again through admittedly different lenses.

    The county fair has been on shaky financial grounds locally for many years. Area farmers still attend and promote the event, but like the rest of the country our population's agricultural ties and character has diminished significantly over the years. I'm sure this is not the case in many rural areas and for places like BFE Nebraska, the fair still represents many communities' entertainment high water mark for the year and continues to be a Big Deal even to this day.

    How about you - is the county fair a big deal in your neck of the woods? When was the last time you attended a fair? Do you find yourself beginning to suspect the midway games may actually be studies in deception (surely not!)? Rural folks: have you ever entered anything into a fair competition? Does the fair hold any charms for you or your kids?
    Last edited by Maister; 17 Aug 2010 at 11:21 AM.

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I go every year. I used to be a member of the FFA and Four H. My wife also was, so we find a fond memory or two at our local fair. Food is great. Never ride anything or buy anything, but I enjoy the animals and the people watching.

    As a side note, my wife won best hog two years in a row back in the day. She got the value at sale for the hogs - $1,280 and $2,340 respectively. Pretty awesome
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    Cyburbian Queen B's avatar
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    The county fair is HUGE here.
    Until this last year they used to let the employees off early so they could go to the fair parade. My office is DEAD that week. I was gone 4 days, no calls.
    Mostly it is the rodeo that is associated with it.
    But then again this is BFE.

    The other city in our county also has a fair and it is a constant source of irritation because the county does not contribute to it financially. The designated County Fair got cut this year too.
    It is all a matter of perspective!!!

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I would think unless you are way out in the sticks the county fair is dead. This will be our first year without a State fair in hundreds of years. I know the Wayne County (Detroit) fair happens and it happens somewhere out by the airport. I don't know who goes to it.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Queen B View post
    The county fair is HUGE here.
    Until this last year they used to let the employees off early so they could go to the fair parade. My office is DEAD that week. I was gone 4 days, no calls.
    Mostly it is the rodeo that is associated with it.
    But then again this is BFE.
    And let's not forget the Big Tractor Pull!

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    For an urban area like Buffalo, the county fair is surprisingly a big deal. Erie County, New York supposedly has the largest county fair in the United States. There's the usual rides (The Mile Long Midway), carnies and tractor pulls, but the largest portion of the site is devoted to animal and crafts exhibits; the kinds of things one might find at a traditional rural fair. There's just a lot more of it. Erie County is unusual for a core metropolitan county, because more than half of the land area is still rural.

    When I worked in the Cleveland area, it was the planning staff's traditional role to man the County Commissioner exhibit/booth. Weekday mornings and afternoons, in a hot, un-airconditioned shed ... ugh. That fair was dead.
    Growth for growth's sake is the ideology of the cancer cell. -- Edward Abbey

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    My fair city has the grounds for the annual State Fair, so all the attention is focused on that. Heck, I don't even know if this county HAS a fair.

    But we do go every year. For me, the fair is like the bus depot. Its a great leveler of humanity. You see all types of people, from the million-dollar-home crowd on down. Because, really, who doesn't like a giant turkey leg?

    I like the animal husbandry stuff best, but I also get a kick out of the presentations of that new super vac or window cleaning product or cookware set. The demos are hilarious - a holdover from another generation or marketing.

    There are also a lot of street performer types wandering about which the kids really enjoy.
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    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    FWIW, there is no such thing as a county fair in Louisiana because we have parishes. However, with that being said, I had never even heard of one until my adult years. There is a state fair that's held in Shreveport every year, but who wants to drive 7+ hours for that?

    Many of the parishes throughout the state have fairs though many are co-billed as festivals. Growing up in Southeast LA, I'm more accustomed to festivals. We have festivals for darn near everything:

    Strawberry
    Orange
    Creole Tomato
    Seafood
    Gumbo
    Music
    Heritage (Ethnic/Cultural)

    So on and so forth......
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    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    I was a city boy, so I was never into the agricultural part of county/state fairs. I went for the rides, games and food. For me, fairs were more "carnivals that had stinky farm animals walking around".

    We usually take our daughters to one fair a year. They seem to like the farm animals more than I did. They especially liked the pig races this year.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    I'm sure this is not the case in many rural areas and for places like BFE Nebraska, the fair still represents many communities' entertainment high water mark for the year and continues to be a Big Deal even to this day.
    Quote Originally posted by Queen B View post
    But then again this is BFE.
    Pardon my ignorance but what does BFE mean?

  11. #11
    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    Pardon my ignorance but what does BFE mean?
    Off-topic:
    Stands for Bum F*ck Egypt, and refers to any remote location in the middle of nowhere. Akin to 'the sticks' or 'the boonies'

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    For an urban area like Buffalo, the county fair is surprisingly a big deal. Erie County, New York supposedly has the largest county fair in the United States. There's the usual rides (The Mile Long Midway), carnies and tractor pulls, but the largest portion of the site is devoted to animal and crafts exhibits; the kinds of things one might find at a traditional rural fair. There's just a lot more of it. Erie County is unusual for a core metropolitan county, because more than half of the land area is still rural.

    When I worked in the Cleveland area, it was the planning staff's traditional role to man the County Commissioner exhibit/booth. Weekday mornings and afternoons, in a hot, un-airconditioned shed ... ugh. That fair was dead.
    I'm a fair lover. A couple of years ago, I "faired it" -- hitting the Chautauqua, Cattaraugus, and Erie County Fairs in NY and the Warren County Fair in PA. I never bother with the midways, just the exhibit buildings, barns, and, of course, the horse show rings.

    The Erie County Fair rocks. I think it's bigger than the State Fair at Syracuse. I usually go every year, and spend most of my time hanging around watching whatever horse show is running for the day (English, western or draft). My friends will retrieve me when they're ready to go as they are well aware that my affinity for equines is a life-long addiction.

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    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Off-topic:
    Stands for Bum F*ck Egypt, and refers to any remote location in the middle of nowhere. Akin to 'the sticks' or 'the boonies'
    Thank you! I know BFE very well, as I hail from it ... I just didn't know it was called that!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian ursus's avatar
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    Love my county fair. To me there's something about a fair that you can't get anywhere else. Where else are you going to smell sweat, tobacco, dung, cotton-candy, and excesses of cologne and perfume all in one place? Don't say Disneyland, cuz obviously, but I mean it's great. You get to see everyone's new tatoos, eat funnel cake...I'll take my brood to the County fair this friday afternoon.
    "...I would never try to tick Hink off. He kinda intimidates me. He's quite butch, you know." - Maister

  15. #15
    Cyburbian Linda_D's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by ursus View post
    Love my county fair. To me there's something about a fair that you can't get anywhere else. Where else are you going to smell sweat, tobacco, dung, cotton-candy, and excesses of cologne and perfume all in one place? Don't say Disneyland, cuz obviously, but I mean it's great. You get to see everyone's new tatoos, eat funnel cake...I'll take my brood to the County fair this friday afternoon.
    I think it's quite amazing how all manner and variety of really disgusting food can smell so heavenly at county fairs.

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    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Nobody mentioned the phenomenon known as fair concerts? 1970s soft rockers, 1980s power ballad bands, and Southern rock and country musicians of all kinds are a staple at bands throughout the country. It makes you wonder just how many Charlie Daniels Bands and REO Speedwagons there are out there in August.
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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Nobody mentioned the phenomenon known as fair concerts? 1970s soft rockers, 1980s power ballad bands, and Southern rock and country musicians of all kinds are a staple at bands throughout the country. It makes you wonder just how many Charlie Daniels Bands and REO Speedwagons there are out there in August.
    There is no question fair organizers across the country pay scrupulous attention to marketing demographics when they organize their events. They have to balance name recognition with affordability, and it seems that many bands have carved themselves very successful latter-day careers by cashing in on their names (and resting on whatever laurels they may claim to possess) decades after they've had any hits. Sure there may be only two original band members remaining, but hey, you've all heard the band's name before, right?.
    38 Special = good draw
    Devo = not so much
    Night Ranger = good draw
    Lou Reed = not so much
    Lynard Skynard = awesome draw
    Come to think of it, any band/act with even remotely cerebral associations is probably not going to be a very good fair concert pick.

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Linda_D View post
    I think it's quite amazing how all manner and variety of really disgusting food can smell so heavenly at county fairs.
    I couldn't agree with you more. The ability to fry things and make it taste / smell good is amazing at fairs. You know the oil hasn't been cleaned all week, but boy does that fried oreo / pickle / green bean / snickers / etc. taste / smell good.

    I also think the aspect of demographics is amazing at fairs. You get your country folk, but there is much more diversity the past 10 years. I don't think fairs are just for us BFEers. It is about obesity and animals too
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    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    This year I went to the Allegany (NY) County Fair. Pretty small but not a bad way to spend an evening. Paid an extra $2.00 to see the headless woman. Not the best use of money, but you don't see stuff like that too often. One thing I noticed missing was a beer tent, seems to be a staple at Chicago neighborhood festivals, but decidedly absent from an county fair I've been to.

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    Cyburbian Planderella's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Nobody mentioned the phenomenon known as fair concerts? 1970s soft rockers, 1980s power ballad bands, and Southern rock and country musicians of all kinds are a staple at bands throughout the country. It makes you wonder just how many Charlie Daniels Bands and REO Speedwagons there are out there in August.
    Have you seen the line up for the Gretna Fest? REO Speedwagon, Charlie Daniels Band, Little River Band, the Temptations Review, and the Doobie Brothers. It doesn't get any more than all of that combined. Last year, the big crowd pleasers were Chicago and Kool & the Gang.
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    Cyburbian
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    Our county fair is a big deal the the folks who go to our county fair. I love going, but I go early and leave when the carnies start moving about. I'm disappointed in the non-agricultural things there, things like rock band mirrors.

    I love the 4H, food prep and sewing exhibits. I love seeing the animals, but stay out of the hog barn. The cattle barn is full of cattle, but there seem to be fewer and fewer horses in the equine barn, and I can't make it to the horse shows.

    Off topic - the electronic sign at the fairgrounds of the county next door was all over the internet last winter when the Steelers won that big football game. The sign said "Congratulations Super Bowel Winners".

  22. #22
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    38 Special = good draw
    Devo = not so much
    Night Ranger = good draw
    Lou Reed = not so much
    Lynard Skynard = awesome draw
    Come to think of it, any band/act with even remotely cerebral associations is probably not going to be a very good fair concert pick.
    I wonder what sorts of bands will be playing at county fairs 20 years from now. Will they be rolling the Marshall Tucker Band or .38 Special onto the stage, or will we be seeing appearances by the Foo Fighters and Stone Temple Pilots?

    Summertime in Buffalo is festival time, with every neighborhood, ethnic group and suburban volunteer fire department throwing their own massive multi-day celebrations. A phenomenon that is an only-in-Buffalo affair as far as I know of is the lawn fete, a carnival held at just about every Catholic church. Some are so big they even have their own Web sites. A mandatory fixture at every lawn fete: Chiavetta.
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    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Nobody mentioned the phenomenon known as fair concerts? 1970s soft rockers, 1980s power ballad bands, and Southern rock and country musicians of all kinds are a staple at bands throughout the country. It makes you wonder just how many Charlie Daniels Bands and REO Speedwagons there are out there in August.
    That's funny as the Macon County fair just had the Charlie Daniels Band as one of it's headliners. My county just had it's fair and it's a fairly big deal, but not as much as those of surrounding counties here in central Illinois where it's THE event of the year (those being the counties where the whole economy is dominated by agriculture). I hardly ever go anymore, but I loved it as a young lad, mainly for the reasons mentioned by the OP. My cousins in southern Indiana used to participate in the tractor pulls and I'd go watch them. I love watching the demolition derby, too.

    I went to the Will County fair all the time as a kid because the fairgrounds were almost right behind where my grandparents lived so I could just hop over the RR tracks and be right there. My grandmother would give me $20 as a teen and then I'd go buy cool knives over in the flea market pavilion.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Fairs aren't really a big thing in Central or Northern NJ. The county did have a fair but it was just a few days long. There is a state fair as well but it's a joint one with Sussex County and the horses are the biggest draw (NJ has a surprisingly robust horse industry).

    Like someone else mentioned festivals are the big thing and usually happen along cultural, ethnic, or religious lines and are pretty well attended. I've been to a number of Greek, Italian, German, and Middle Eastern festivals since moving here. Rutgers University consolidated some of its events two years ago and now hosts Rutgers Day which is spread out over 4 of the 5 campuses and is a lot of fun for people of all ages.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

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    Cyburbian illinoisplanner's avatar
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    My sister-in-law was second-runner up in the McHenry County beauty pageant several years ago. My family went to the fair that year to cheer on my brother's then-girlfriend. I also went with my brother and his GF the following year to watch the following year's pageant.

    In college, I volunteered at the county fair where my college was during the 2008 election season (the Sandwich Fair). It was days after Palin was announced as the VP candidate (the only time McCain was ever ahead in the polls) and I remember hundreds of people coming up to the booth rejecting McCain signs and only wanting McCain-Palin signs, which weren't available yet. I had to write down all their names and addresses and phone numbers so they could get their signs when they were available.

    They also have Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair, a gathering of who's who in GOP politics in the state, which I attended in 2007.

    I'm going to DeKalb's Cornfest this weekend to go see the band Firehouse...and eat some free corn.

    I've never really gone to the fair just to go to the fair though...I always had a reason. While I would generally walk through the whole fair during the few times I've gone, I realized that there was just not much interest in most of the stuff for me. Classic cars, tractor pulls, farm animals, blowing money on food and games...eh. It's something to pass the time, I s'pose. The food is somewhat of interest to me, but it's usually pretty pricey. And sometimes the bands are good.
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