County fairs showcase local culture
July 31, 2009
“There’s a full moon in the western sky, and magic in the air
Ain’t nothing I know of to make you fall in love like a
Night at the county fair”
As with so many pieces of everyday life and its wonders, the words of the late and great Chris LeDoux say it better than most of us could.
County fair time will soon be upon us, and the venue which, in each part of the country, remains as a bastion for reflecting local culture, will once again open up.
Having been a county fair aficionado since early adulthood, I cannot possibly imagine being out of town during fair week. Due to the timing of our wedding anniversary, it is with regret that we often miss the June rodeo.
But county fair ? That would border on unpatriotic.
Fair week for this year is August 10-15. Typing in the subject will put you on the Web site, to give you any info you need.
Which is not the purpose of this column.
What I prefer to focus on is the uniqueness of county fairs, ours included, as a stage for local and indigenous culture that, in our homogenized times, has become all too rare.
Case in point:
One of my first memories of county fair time had to do with Harvey Rice’s Percherons and Clydesdales. Since I was dating Harvey’s granddaughter, and because the rules in Pennsylvania allowed simultaneous entries, we would sometimes find ourselves at three consecutive fairs during three consecutive weekends: Butler, Mercer and Lawrence counties, accompanying what has to be one of God’s noblest creations, the gentle, powerful draft horses.
I remember riding the big walnut gelding, Duke, around to calm him down before judging.
Yes, you can ride a draft horse, but only if he lets you. Duke and I were special friends.
Case in point:
Along the Atlantic Coastline of South Jersey, or along the shores of Lake Erie, the adult arts and crafts division becomes a showcase for some of the finest decoy carvers in the country.
To win a ribbon for one’s work in Ocean County, NJ or Huron County, OH, means going head to head with some of the best in creations of wood that would make any real duck hunter bow to the presence of history.