Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Off to the FAIR!

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We decided to go the state fair this weekend. The Child has gone with friends, but it's been years since the three of us have gone as a family. Our favorite things are the animals, the exhibition halls and the FOOD.

We came early:

And stayed late:

We saw the sights:

We saw the animals. This curious alpaca:

Some amazing fowl:

I’ve never seen a curly feathered bird before:

Look at this guy’s feet:

What is this fellow thinking:

Have you ever seen such beautiful eyes:

And this was bizarre – see the rings around the black spots on this lady:

Close up they were almost blue:

Some of them even had polka dots:

Could anyone look at this picture and not smile:

Some PIG!

Obligatory stunt shots:

We met up with Mr. Kim's mother, sister, brother in law, niece and brother a few times. They were there, too and we got to spend a little time with them. My MIL has won countless ribbons over the years for her kitchen prowess - including her incomperable yeast rolls (which I now have the recipe for). She didn't submit anything this year, though - so no home team to root for. Mr. Kim's brother lives in Arizona and was in town for the wedding of another niece - he's getting ready to become a world traveler for an undetermined amount of time, so any time that we could squeeze in with him was welcome.

In the exhibition halls there were the usual baked goods, preserves, flower arrangements. I love looking at these and imagining the (mostly) women taking such great care and trying over and over again to perfect a recipe, to correct an awkwardly drooping flower, to arrange the glistening peaches in a jar JUST SO. There were some amazing quilts:

We noticed a couple of odd (to us, at least) categories. One was charming - literary themed table settings (influenced by Sandra Lee's tablescapes, perhaps?). There were a number of these, but my favorite, of course was the Wizard of Oz one:

A poppy centerpiece decorated with Denslow illustrations, straw, a little tin funnel and emerald green trim on the napkins. My favorite part of it was that it was obviously done by a true reader since the slippers were silver and not ruby.

The other odd category was antiques. There were exhibits of different old items - vases, tin toys, ephemera - with ribbons on them for 1st prize, 2nd prize, etc. We were perplexed. We don't attend fairs and such all that often, but it seems peculiar to get a ribbon for something that you bought in a store. The three of us had wandered off and converged in the middle of the exhibition hall saying, in almost the same breath, "Did you see the antique exhibition?". All of the other competitions were creative in some way - handmade furniture and quilts, flower arrangements, preserves, baked goods - even the gourds and giant pumpkins took some effort on the part of the entrant besides writing a check. Are we missing something?

One of the exhibition halls had a wonderful selection of what used to be called 'penny candy'. Walking through a maze similar to theme park ride queues, we were presented on both sides with crates of just about every bite-sized candy that exists. Tiny pieces of your past are very hard to resist and, honestly I didn't try very hard:

We ended up with almost $25 worth of 'penny candy' that will probably end up at one office or another!

We put off the midway until it was almost dark:

When I was a kid, carnival/fair food consisted of corn dogs, cotton candy and candy/caramel apples. Now, the offerings are staggering. Every kind of smoked meat, ice cream and deep fried EVERYTHING! We held off pretty well – a few freebie nibbles in the exhibition halls, a corn dog here, some fried cheese there and LOTS of drinks – until late. Finally the aroma got to us and we went crazy. I purchased something called a Pork Parfait:

Pulled pork, mashed potatoes and BBQ sauce. It was actually pretty good, but would have been better with REAL mashed potatoes, instead of instant.

We really went to town on the fried desserts, though. It WAS the fair, after all. When are we going to have to have another chance to eat that stuff?

We sampled deep fried HoHo’s:


Reese’s Cups:

And PB&J’s:

Yep, that would be a deep fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was incredible. I am so glad that the fair only comes once a year. I could eat one of these every other day.

So there we were – stuffed full of fat and sugar, toting a $25 dollar bag of ‘penny candy’, footsore and exhausted. What was left to do but limp to the car and wander home to our well-earned easy chairs? We just needed to stop and pick up cotton candy, a candy apple and a caramel apple to take home. And reader…we DID!


  1. This is the best "Fair Report" I've ever read!! If you missed anything, I don't miss it.

    The alpaca!! The chicken with a perm! The feather-footed pigeon! The silly photos! And those quilts (no pickles) and all that FAIRFOOD!

    I just LOVED this! I feel as if I were the Fourth in this fun entourage, and saw and tasted every single thing.

    A+ for Reportage, M'Dear. Can't wait for ENGLAND!

  2. Thank you for this, Kim! It brought back so many memories of going to the Los Angeles County Fair in Pomona when I was a child - to when I was a young adult. There were equivalent exhibitions to almost everything you mentioned. And all sorts of contests for talent, beauty, yodeling, 4 H kinds of stuff, etc. But we had one exhibition hall you didn't - California wines!!! Boy did I enjoy that when I was old enough! But I hear more and more about Virginia wines, so you may have one of those soon, too!

    It's been great to watch the evolution of the foods available, too. Though being in California, there were quite a few organic, healthy food stands competing for your dollar in the last decades.

  3. PS--I meant to say that the only jarring picture is of you and Mike---Grant Wood would have run y'all off the farm.

    People with your personalities just can't do GLUM worth a flip.

  4. Rachel - I think even Wood's folk would have smiled at the fair! Who could resist piglets, hours old calves and deep fried candy bars?

    Anon – There actually was a wine competition (this is fairly new, you understand). We, though certainly not connoisseurs, like VA wines a lot – especially Barboursville and Horton. They even had a label contest!

  5. Hi, Kim!

    It's Christine007 from egullet forums.
    just wanted to say I like your blog,espcially the title!
    I too adore the penny candy,those coconut pink,brown and white things are to die for.
    I love to pick the jellies out of the white nougat things too.
    Very nice,and as I'm about your age, I too like the memories you shared.

  6. Hi, Christine! Thanks so much for visiting. I am very much the slacker blogger, but I hope you'll come back again (I should get better after the holidays). The title of my blog was just inspiration. I never come up with clever titles, but that one just came to me. A gift from Miss Parker, I guess!

  7. Fairs. So American. I went to one in Nashville this August (and blogged about it) with daughter, SIL and grandson. It was so much fun. But my pictures are not nearly as funny as yours. Thanks!

  8. I love fairs! I still want to attend the Iowa and Texas fairs some day!