A lot of people I know like the Memorial-to-Labor Day period of the year in the US because they are absolutely littered with festivals, parades, Field Days and Fairs. I like them because they tend to have some element of parochial innocence. There are some I don;t really care for or am not interested in. I enjoyed the Farm Festival we went to last weekend. And the NY State Fair is a fantastic thing because it has all sorts going on with lots of events, exhibitions, animals, decent food and free stuff to be nabbed. But there was a local one this weekend that I wasn't particularly interested in. I figured it would be a bit naff. We went to a small county fair last year that for all intensive purposes was a truck selling coffee, a horse-riding event and a shit roller coaster. Boring for everyone. But then we'd shown up early on a Sunday morning and nothing else was open yet. I hoped this local Field Day would be a bit better than that. It was right down the road from us offering a mix of Fair food, some rides for the kids and possibly even a parade chucked in. If you have no experience of them think of them this way - if this was held in the UK it would be a bit sordid, stereotypically derided as gypsies giving away soon-to-be-dead goldfish and a place for Chavs to go and get drunk.
But this being the family-obsessed USA they aren't like that really. It's all very much about the community. Almost everything in this country is which is great of you feel part of one and have kids. They go out of their way to be pleasant, warm and friendly. For a start the blokes that man the fairground rides are polite and helpful. Which is quite noticeable. The food is generally much better. The dodgy little bumper-cars-and-dead-fish fairground events in the UK tend to have an offensively expensive burger van and that's it. At US events people know they are in for fried dough (it's like a big flat hot doughnut drowned in powdered sugar), cotton candy and a nice big choice of actual food to choose from. Decent food too - with lots of variety. There's also a tendency in western/central NY to sell a package deal thing of roast chicken quarter that comes with a small bag of chips (the us one), a pickle, coleslaw/beans, a bread roll and a drink. It's a good meal actually.
Anyway - this little small event was a family thing that was nice and innocent. It was held by the local fireman's association and very much presented as a family thing that slowly seeps into a drunken old man thing by the evening. A few rides and a bit to eat was all we had in mind. As there are no other things - no stuff to look at or animals to feel up - I really didn't have much interest. Add I don't eat anything covered in bread or like cotton candy - so it isn't for me really. Actually we had wanted to see the parade involved, but it had been scheduled for 6 or 7pm in stormy wet weather in a tiny town that had banned parking anywhere near anything. But the kids didn't care. My son is old enough to sit on things so he went on a train with his sister. Look at the unbridled glee in their faces as they sit alone on a train in a the humid damp.
After whizzing about on a more wobbly roller-coaster (which my son asked to get off of), a couple more rides that my daughter orbited about on and smashing about in a bouncy castle my wife got a box of popcorn, a huge cotton-candy thing on a stick and a lemonade. I took this photo of some stuff you can buy at one of the stands and figured I'd explain what they have for people that have nod idea about these things. You probably need to click the photo so you can read it.
So that's Limberger cheese first up. That's kind of odd. Limberger is a reesty, stinking cheese that has so strong an odor that some people can't actually stand the smell. Quite how that is served isn't clear to me. Probably breaded and fried. Then clams. Call me a skeptic but if I did eat clams - and I don't - I'd probably not buy them at a fairground 1,200 miles in land. The next thing listed there is something called Gizzards. Off hand I have no idea what that is. Especially as I know it to be a name for a bird's stomach. I looked it up and it might be fried chicken/turkey of some type. Which sounds as if it might be so awful that it's good - as long as it doesn't have those knotted lumps in it that you suspect might be a knuckle or sphincter gristle. And last there are salt potatoes - a glorious food of heavily salted spuds drenched in butter. Lovely stuff. Other than that there were Italian sausages, hot dogs, ribbon fries, burgers, blooming onions, those huge turkey legs that taste suspiciously like ham - and lots of other nosh.
Oddly I felt of this as a precursor to much better events. Now I'm quite excited to go to the 4th of July parade up at the in-laws, and see the parade for the Field Day in Booneville, NY. That parade is orgasmically great because it involves huge forestry machines that you won't see in less-rural places, tons of candy and stuff being chucked out for the kids, a nice friendly atmosphere and something nice and cold to chow on. Add a scenic backdrop of those kinds of little towns they have in movies were a yuppie gets stuck in his sports-car before realizing that The Big City is an awful place and that this small mountain-town is really wonderful. But more than that now I'm jazzed for the State Fair. My son will be old enough now to really enjoy the animals and exhibits. He can learn from me the best way to poke a pig's tail - something I feel compelled to do against my will. And he'll now truly appreciate my wife's pride at her showing off her impressive lung capacity in the health building. Plus frankly I need some new Bat Rabies Awareness magnets that they give away at one of the booths.
But it isn't until September - which gives me a reason to at least look past the Summer which I tend to not like due to the month of unpleasant unbearable humidity and the annoying mosquitoes. So now be prepared for me doing that annoying thing of talking about apples, root vegetables, cool evenings, darkness before 11pm and the holiday season all the time as I pine for the not-summer enough to somehow make it come quicker.