A Fair Warning

This weekend Boyfriend and I voyaged to the coast to visit the Ventura County Fair.  The only fair where you can watch the surfers from the top of the ferris wheel.  We go to this fair every year, and each time the things we see and do solidify our intentions to attend next year.

The weather this time was meek and mild during the day; in the evening the maritime dusk condensed into a fine mist that melted on our faces like newborn rain.  But when we arrived there was no time to think on that; there was no time to stand and stare, to dodge the children and their equally aimless parents, to smell the piles of bratwurst cooking on open grills…we had to move quickly.  The Turkey Stampede – back, no doubt, by popular demand – was about to being.

The passage of one year did not lessen the competitive majesty of the event.  The winners were inevitably the ones who remembered that they had wings, and were able to figure out what they were used for.  There's a lesson in that for all of us, I think.

The Wildlife Experience was next, and it introudced someone new, a dramatically patterned stealth glider:

It stared beyond us and the palmtrees and the ocean, thinking perhaps of cold forests and frosted nights.  It stared at us with magnificent disgust.  It was rather grand.

From there, we elbowed people aside and pushed away all obstacles as we feverisihly and frantically cleared a path to:  The Bunny Barn.

Once inside, we immersed ourselves in a Velveteen world of Lops and Dwarfs,


colored white, lavender, fawn, otter, spotted, stippled and solid:

Boyfriend put hand and fingers – showing signs that Someone Isn't Wearing Gloves When He Trims The Trees – into considerable danger, risking an attack-by-nibbling on several occasions.  All I could do was snap pictures and hope he wouldn't have to be fitted with a hook later on:



Meghan, a member of the local 4-H chapter, found herself to be the modest center of attention:

When we emerged into the sunlight once more, we realized that we hadn't a moment to lose.  We were becoming lightheaded with the excitement of it all.

For there was a new show at the fair.

Something new, something daring – something which could change our world view and possibly even alter America's political climate.

First the human members of the troupe whipped the audience into a porcine frenzy by playing a song I wasn't familiar with, but which had the refrain, "I'm going hog wild!"

Then the pigs were introduced:  Snort, Nellie and Petunia.  And the pandemonium began.

There was hoop jumping:

There was lawn mowing:

There was football kicking:

There was horn blowing:

And, finally, there was suitcase packing, prepatory to moving on to the next fair.  Life on the road is hard:

This, friends, was hammy hysteria, and it is no surprise that the Leno and Lettermans whows, as well as Animal Planet, all agree:  Valentine's pigs are a panic.

As we staggered away from the proceedings, deeply moved, yet at the same time confused, we found ourselves lured by the barn smells, by the rustling sounds of alfalfa and hay being cut, by the bleats and baaaas of sheep and goats becoming impatient.  We came upon rows and rows of pens – all containing either sheep (warm or shorn), 

or goats:  amber-eyed, wearing beards or…goatees, ready to mistake your sleeve for an appetizer. 

We continued our walk all the way to the far end of the fairgrounds, towards the stables and the large corral used for all equine competitions.  We watched the finalists for the drafthorse pulling competition – 3 pair:

To see these fine creatures, so massive, yet with the feathers dancing lightly around their fetlocks, was quite moving, and our applause was most heartfelt:

Now, since these horses were so large, reins were too subtle a controlling device; so the drivers also had to rely on their voices to guide their teams.  I was able to hear quite clearly the driver of the first team calling the name of his lead horse:  "Nancy".  That rather delighted me.

Now, I'm convinced that this fair – as much as I love it – is involved in a nefarious conspiracy, a diabolical plan to make every one of its attendees sick; to have each one experience an unexpected reunion with their lunch.  The fair's rides are located next to the gallery of gluttony, a dazzling street of edibles designed to tempt, to amaze, to make one believe once more:

And there is not a single ride that does not hurl or toss (ironically), swing, pitch or bounce.

I promised Boyfriend that I would go on one.  And I'm not saying that it was Hell, but I thought I saw Dante sitting across from me.  He later told me that he was going to add another chapter.

So, I would like to advise all of you:  visited your local county fair.  And If you come away tired, dusty, sunburnt, queasy from eating several meals made up entirely of grease and sugar or barbequed fat – fainting from the deliciousness of it all – if you find yourself in all ways physically disrupted, yet full of memories of bunnies, turkeys, pigs, fragrant farmyards, horses in glittering silver harness, wild animals, wild rides…well, I gave you fair warning.

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14 responses to “A Fair Warning

  1. Oh Aubs, all this sounds fantastic!!! Owlies and bunnies and piggies and horsies, oh my! We don't have animals at our local fairs 😦

  2. Beautiful bunnies! But clearly ferocious and not to be trusted. Boyfriend is very brave. 🙂

  3. Yay, you got to see the performing pigs! Looks like you both had a grand time.

  4. This is great, Aubrey, I burst out laughing through the howl thing! I feel like I was there (except for the hurling part).

  5. Sounds like a lot of fun. Selling bacon dogs so near the performing pigs is a tad tasteless, though. I have to wonder what happens to the pigs who bump into the hoop in mid-leap.

  6. "The winners were inevitably the ones who remembered that they had wings, and were able to figure out what they were used for. There's a lesson in that for all of us, I think."

  7. Sounds like a Most Excellent Day. And you braved a ride! Maybe two next year?

  8. Fabulous. I love your descriptions every year; like the fair, they get better!Which ride did you brave?That is a perfect day.Alas, our county fair this year was during TK's intense illness, so we could not enjoy both looking at and eating livestock.

  9. Yes, what ride did you brave? Fairs like this, they're the heartland of America, a living souvenir from days of yore, a marker of life good and true. or at least simpler. felt like i was right there. except for anyone's barfing.

  10. Suga' – that is tragic, and it makes me think that I should have posted more pictures just for you. I'm glad all of our creatures were able to entertain you.
    IG – the Dwarfs especially; they would take a preliminary finger-chew, then retire, disapproving, to the back of their cages.
    arbed – the pigs were epic. At the end of the show, donations to pig rescue organizations were accepted (you'd put your money in a piggy bank) and in exchange you would get to pet Snort or Nellie.
    JP – unfortunately, the fair experience is also a hurling experience. All I had was an iced mocha and that one ride still made me feel all sickish and odd.
    M—–l – please. These pigs are professionals. They don't need the threat of a devoured destiny to make them learn their lessons.
    emily – yes; one can experience the fair fully and happily without subjecting oneself to the rides. I can't convince Boyfriend, however.
    Laurie – sorry. Can't be done. The excellence of the day would be quite destroyed!
    LT/Wbaby – take a look at the 'Vomitorium' photo. To the left of 'The Sea Dragon' is a circular, tilted sort of thing. That is either it exactly, or that is a smaller version. It was called 'The Extreme' – as you will be extremely ill as soon as you step off.

  11. This looks like a lot of fun! The bunnies are really cute.

  12. Great time and a perfect day! I love the pics 🙂

  13. I love this piece. The owl is special, but the pigs are the best! No ride for me though…

  14. This makes me so homesick! *cries* My nieces are competing in my old county fair back in Michigan this week.
    I used to spend many weeks of my childhood and adolescence living in camper trailers at the county fairs and the state fair in downtown Detroit. Yep. 8 Mile and Woodward. That was not a rural experience, but we did get to introduce many a city dweller to food on the hoof (or milk in the udder, more specifically to our display).
    Thanks so much for sharing your day!

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