Saturday, Boyfriend and I made our yearly sojourn to the Ventura County Fair. We prefer it because it's smaller than the L.A. and Orange County ones, and because it's cheek by jowl with the ocean – rather than embedded in the Valley of Death. And this is a significant characteristic when you're considering spending your day walking in the dust, eating profusely and sitting in the wicked sun of early August.
The layout is simple: one main road, with food stands on either side – carmelized appel towers, funnel cakes, BBQ tri-tip, roasted turkey legs, sausage sandwiches grilled corn on the cob, nachos, corn dogs, deep-fried-anything (they'll probably let you thrust your hand into the fryer for a nominal fee)…a glorious cacophony of cholesterol.
On the right hand side is our inevitable first destination: what Boyfriend has dubbed the 'bunny barn'. We had to get to the fair early, at 10AM – just as it opened, in fact – in order to be in on the bunneh judging:
The respectful hush (not respectul enough, however, to appease the obvious anger felt by the bunnies as they were being held, turned about, placed on their backs and passed from judge to judge) amongst the crowd of spectators, made me somewhat ashamed to be holding something as bourgeois as a camera. I felt as if I was cheapening a sacred moment.
Then, we went inside the barn. The fortunate finger in these pictures is Boyfriend's; none of these bunnehs mistook it for an Object of Edibility:
Except for this one, who apparently sought to investigate further, with his teeth:
And I include this picture too, which I insisted on taking, due to his extraordinary roundness – the bun's lack of any visible corners was completely sublime:
There was the poultry barn, sheep pens, goat pens…we visited them all. We enjoyed the hay-smell, the alfalfa-small, the barn-smell, the buzzing sound of the sheep shears, the goat peering over the enclosure wall as he was given his afternoon bath, the pandemonium the sheep were raising as lunchtime drew near (and tell me you haven't done that before). I am showing you these two photos, the first as an example of action feeding photography: the chicken's body remains still and in focus, while its head is a blur, as it pecks at its feed feverishly. The second is an example of young hippie sheep who refuse to cut their hair:
The stables were located at the very end of the road. I love to walk up and down the aisles, and pet the velvety muzzles of the horses, the draft horses especially – there are few faces in the animal world that are more noble or gentle. This portrait was taken, with the horse's stipulation that I stand at a respectable distance so that it would be easier to crop me out of the final picture:
Towards our left, at around 12:30PM, we became aware of a certain atmospheric thrill. A dense excitement, as crowds began to push against each other, the subdued whispers rising to loud discussions, speculation and wonder. We followed the amazement in the air, and found something quite unexpected:
The stampede, or race, was barely controlled mayhem. The turkeys at some point were aware that seeds and yummy meal awaited them just beyond the homestretch. But half-way through the running they always seemed to forget, and would start to mill around, no doubt asking each other exactly what thte hell they were doing out there and didn't they agree to take notes this time? So a small, electric tractor was introduced to herd – and hurry – them on.
When we left, we were frankly stunned.
Next door, there was the 'Wild Life Experience', which we alway slike. It's nice to see animals – even the local ones – at close range. And they're usually rescues. For instance, these two beauties…
…were each found with injured wings, shot by some enterprising individuals. They were successfully repaired; though neither of them will ever fly properly again. So they were given sanctuary homes with the Experience.
Now, this guy is apparently common in both Boyfriend's and my neighborhoods, but I never have seen one in all its marsupial glory:
Back with the barns, we saw an unprecedented attempt at communication by this group of piglets:
'H' has obviously already been outlined. Can 'L' and 'P' be far behind?
No visit to the fair can be complete without a final food tally:
Aubrey: iced cappuccino
Boyfriend: pineapple shake, 32 oz. Pepsi, caramel corn, honey-roasted almonds. The only explanation I can offer for his meager total is that he has gone on a diet, unbeknownst to me.
Because, really, to me nothing says County Fair more than a Boyfriend with a stomach ache.