The Delightful Fair

Whenever I go to the Ventura County Fair – happy and irresponsible along the beach –

The Three R’s

there are several things I look forward to.

There is the food.  When you enter the grounds you walk down a straight, delirious path between vendors selling shards of meat, vegetables and sweets ready at to be fried at your bidding.    I sigh happily at the thought of the countless vats of boiling oil waiting to engulf and transform these items into clogging, beatific deliciousness.  Boyfriend had a funnel cake the size of Vesuvius for breakfast.

However, I stay away from fried foods.  Against my will, but it is so.  It fuels my bitterness and strengthens my hate, but still, I don’t eat The Fried.  Weight-watching and the Fair remind me of siblings that will always fight at the table for Meal Supremacy.  As a matter of fact, I was probably the only person that day who went searching for a low-fat cappuccino.  (but I found it!)

I also anticipate a very pretty day:  the Ventura County Fair always provides stupendous weather for its attendees.  It isn’t inland, where other fairs spend their summer weeks huddled in a pocket of humidity.  We – Father, Boyfriend and Aubrey – had left early, and when we arrived the marine layer was still asleep on the horizon, and it had just stopped raining.  Later that day, as we sat at the Morgan Arena watching the horse-and-carriage competition I saw pelicans and seagulls in the distance, and heard their cries above the hooves and the drivers’ hushed admonitions.

But – since I was a child – it was always the collection of animals that drew me the farthest and strongest.  The fair is a barnyard free-for-all, an ark of gentle creatures who have taken time off from serving us in order to be petted, spoken to and admired.

This year we had to arrive early – by 10:30A, to witness the Bunny Costume Contest.  I prefer the word ‘witness’ as it seems only suitable when standing in the presence of such an epic competition.  You don’t watch bunnies in pigtails and steer horns – you witness, as you would a miracle.

We still arrived too late for the judging.  There were only two bunnies left – a cowgirl (2nd place) and a longhorn steer (4th place).

Lop-Along Cassidy

Long-Horned Short On Patience

I was photographing them, when a woman approached me.  I assumed she was going to ask me to move – as I usually do when anyone approaches me.  However, what she did was identify herself and the newspaper she worked with, and proceeded to ask my opinions of the competition.  You can read them here.    (warning:  should you do so, you will also learn my real name – keep in mind that my first name is misspelled)

Afterwards we walked through the Bunny Barn:

Bunny Trilogy

Cylindrical Disapproval

Dwarf Rabbit Giant Cute

We saw sheep and goats.  More than one goat, dissatisfied with the feed in its pen, reared up and scanned the crowds for something more interesting.

Need Some Service Here!

I took an unfocused photo of Kahlua, the miniature Sicilian donkey:

Kahlua The Coffee Donkey

And there was the All-Alaskan Pig Racing.  We took our seats – early – and waited.  For the pageantry, the color, the thundering of porcine feet, the tiny coiled tails sailing over blue hurdles.

Pig Champion Soapy Sam Cleans Up

Pig Racing – The Other White Meet

Bacon might be thrilling on your plate – but it’s nothing compared to it racing around the final turn and heading for the homestretch.

We progressed to the horses and found the draft and carriage competitions.  Ponies pulling shining carriages –

Pony Up

draft horses, their tails braided with lovely complexity, wrapped in thick harnesses loud with silver decorations.  We were fortunate to watch a riding competition too – Frisian horses, the knight’s choice – with the competitors riding either English or Western, as they chose.  One girl even rode side-saddle, and I had to say (to myself) ‘girl, you had better WORK that late-Victorian fierceness!’

We walked between the stables, looking for a tolerant-looking animal.  I love the Clydesdales – their faces are so noble and bonny – and found one which didn’t hate me too much.  I spoke to it, and saw its ears flickering forward, listening to my idiocy.  Their noses are like gray velvet.

A Free Picture Of Draft

There was even a ‘Butterfly Experience’ – a pretty wander amongst Monarchs and Painted Ladies.  We took Q-tips, dipped them in plates of nectar, and offered the saturated drinks to whatever butterflies happened by.  One Lady rode on my hat for the duration of my stay.  I noticed that some butterflies were fluttering helplessly on the ground, unable to take flight.  I asked a helper about this and was informed that they had ‘had too much’ and would have to be taken to ‘motels’ in order to dry out.  I felt sad about debauching such dainty creatures.

The Drunk Tank

Our stay at the fair is usually quite sizeable:  this time I would say about 10A – 5P.  We were tired, dusty, smelling like a barn – and thoroughly delighted.


13 responses to “The Delightful Fair

  1. Your annual trip to the fair is one of my favorite reads. Thank you for bringing back your stories and also bringing up fond memories of my 4-H filled youth. So glad you had a great time!

  2. Like Amy, I always enjoy your fair stories. Delightful. And bonus points for getting “disapproving” into the newspaper story.

  3. The fair may have been delightful, but your wordsmithing made this read equally so.

  4. Once I stopped fantasizing about that funnel cake and could move on to the rest of your post, it was marvelous. The donkey and rabbits were my favorites, but I confess I laughed aloud at the butterflies, waiting for their designated carriers to get them back home.

    Fairs are marvelous, especially when they come along with weather that makes it possible to really enjoy them. We’re not at that point yet.

  5. amy – during those days, were bunny costume contests even mentioned? Perhaps whispered about? It could have been such a brilliant opportunity!

    Lurker – I’m talking about bunnies. They’re wearing hats and horns and things. OF COURSE they disapprove. But yes, it was mandatory that ‘disapprove’ should be mentioned; I wouldn’t have forgiven myself otherwise.

    Cindy – thank you! One can’t go to the delightful fair and remain unmoved – or at least silent!

    shoreacres – really, I had never heard of intoxicated butterflies. But after taking advantage of constant offerings of nectar, could the end result be anything else? Mind, the drunk tanks for Monarchs and Painted Ladies were strictly separate – it’s nice to know that a type of butterfly morality was maintained.

    I hope you achieve some weather easement soon – we’re inching up to the nineties ourselves, and I agree – it is not a Happy Situation.

    • There may well have been a rabbit costume contest. A few 4-H friends had rabbits so I should check with them. For some reason, I think the fancy chickens were also in on the dress-up party.

      This is the week of my ol’ county fair. Niece #2 and her steer took Grand Champion honors. Huzzah! Niece #1 was first runner-up in the Fair Queen contest, the same one her mother won lo so many years ago. Her mother’s crown, sash and stunning smile – and friendship with me – afforded her the liberty to strike up a conversation with my Brother Ray, a dashing, brawny and charming farm boy with a twinkle in his eye.

  6. I never would have thought that you were named Ryan Duryea!

  7. Well, now we know why bunnies are so disapproving. I would be too if I, or my mates, were humiliated like that. (no I wouldn’t… I’d laugh at all of it!)

    I’ve really got to check out the Ventura fair some time. Seems far superior to the OC Fair. On odd thing about all the food stands… the abundance and overkill actually makes me NOT want food. I usually get by on beer – lots & lots of beer.

  8. aubrey: for a couple of years, we had rabbits as pets while i was growing up (then we acquired two german shepherds and had to leave the bunnies behind)…they are charming animals, especially when equipped w/ cattle horns…thx for sharing! RT

  9. FD – you are a treasure – I would only let a goddess get away with that.

    leendadll – I’m glad you made that decision re: names. I had to think long and hard about adding the link to the story. But my ego got the best of me: showing my real name in print trumped keeping my Aubrey identity secret.

    Music&Meaning – Boyfriend once had a rabbit as a pet; we are both partial to those soft, endearing creatures. Once, when out bike-riding, we met a girl carrying a large white rabbit in her purse. Its name was ‘Easter’.

  10. Last weekend we had a birthday party for my 6 yo. Eleven girls got to pet, fondle, squeeze, play with, feed, be buried under, and carry the bunnies. There were more than 20 altogether, not counting the three batches of newborns (which the girls did not get to touch, but did watch the mothers nursing). A week later, my daughter is still pretending to be a baby bunny. (Animals are so nice, aren’t they!?)

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