I’ve always loved fairs. Each summer our parents would take us to the Upper Peninsula State Fair in Escanaba. It was the highlight of the year -- a big, extravagant hodgepodge of people, animals, arts and crafts, vegetables, tractor displays, and many other exciting attractions. We returned there as adults and got to see the John and June Carter Cash show one year. In Cincinnati Katja, J, and I would go each August to the Hamilton County Fair in Carthage. The highlight was Zambora the Gorilla Woman, a booth in which you would actually see an attractive woman in a filmy evening gown being transformed into a huge gorilla which then would break through the bars of its cage and chase the screaming patrons out of the enclosure. At family reunions in Birch Creek we’d sometimes go to the Marinette County Fair in Wausaukee, the most rural and primeval of all our fair outings over the years.
I’d hoped to go to the big Warren County Fair in Lebanon two weeks ago, but it was blazing hot. Then the Butler County Fair in Hamilton opened. It was still in the mid-nineties, but, when the humidity dipped down one day, Katja volunteered to go along just to make me feel better. I later told a friend we’d had a romantic outing. She wondered if Katja had found it romantic too. I hadn’t asked her but I thought she did. We did have a fun time. The fair wasn’t very crowded on a hot Tuesday afternoon, but everything was up and running. We checked out the rides with their little kid patrons, had lunch on the midway (leather-tough steak for Katja, chicken breast sandwich for me), spent a lot of time looking at rabbits and also sheep and pigs, admired the flowers and vegetables, inspected the arts and crafts (Katja thought the hand-sewn clothing was from the 1940s), and stopped by the Democrat and Republican political booths to get free pens and pencils. This was an iconic county fair. It was nice to be out mingling with real people, there was lots to see and do, and it took me back to my rural roots. I don’t think that the basic elements of the fair have changed much over the last half century. Here are some photos which give a sampling of our experience.
The rides and games may look rinky-dink, but they can be thrilling when you’re seven or eight.
The Midway offered an endless assortment of delicious, unhealthy foods.
The county fair is an ideal venue for people to exhibit their year’s creations, whether gardenias, quilts, or wood-carvings.
The small animal barn offered a hundred bunnies or more and many other delights.
We enjoyed the big animals too.
The sheep-judging was definitely the highlight of our day.
So that’s a solid afternoon’s worth. We heartily recommend the Butler County Fair if anybody’s in the vicinity. Saturday’s the last day though.
-Jennifer M (7-29): Great! It's just how I imagined. Looking at the photos, I could even smell it!