Life Happens: Wild about the fair
The 4H exhibits have always been my favorite. Fair-goers can see everything from sheep to cows and every other farm animal in between. I always enjoy seeing what the 4H kids have made, from handmade clothes, to jars of jams and jellies.
My own kids had their animals at the fair for a summer or two. We were a “duck” 4H and, after we raised our ducks from eggs, the animals were entered and judged. It was exciting for my kids to see their ducks on display.
We even brought home a first place ribbon in the “duck-dressing” contest. Yes, we dressed our ducks in costumes: a fluffy, blue chiffon prom gown and tiara for our female duck and a leather-studded motorcycle jacket and helmet for our male duck. The “biker chick” won.
The midway is another attraction that has been around forever. James E. Strates Shows has provided that midway since 1924. The digitally-programmed lighting on the Ferris wheel might be new, but the midway itself is reassuringly familiar. Loud, boisterous and bright, it carries on, year after year.
The Chiavetta’s chicken barbecue stand is another fixture at the fair. I’m not sure when they started there, but I know that I’ve been enjoying their barbecued half of a chicken and tomato salad since I was a kid.
The one thing I never really liked was the birch beer. I know it’s another icon of the fair and I remember when it was 25 cents a glass, but, to me, it always tasted like toothpaste. I was very happy when the lemonade stands came to the fair. The half-lemon, sweet, sugar concoction is one of my all-time favorites and I look forward to a giant glass of that, every year.
So, for all the stands and attractions that have been the mainstay of the fair, it continues to add and expand. Today, the fair provides 12 days of concerts, hypnotists, motor sports, clowns and marching bands. As the third-largest county fair in the nation, it is 275 acres of fun that takes an entire day, or maybe two, to see.
The fair has been rolling along since 1841. It has grown a lot in 171 years, from 12 acres when it started in its current spot in Hamburg, to all these acres of attractions, food, rides and spectacles. I hope it continues for another 171 years, or more.