County Fair

Posted: 28 July 2009 in observations
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Dear readers, you know that I have a long history of country fair attendance.  You’d think that now that I’m more rural than ever, D and I would have more to write home about.  So far though, the only notable fair commentary I’ve had is what puts the county in county fair.

Admittedly, D and I are particular about what sort of fairs we go to.  We tend to steer clear of the smaller, Ferriswheel-only type events.  Don’t get me wrong, we’re not in it for the rides. We have two, clear criteria.  Food and a demolition derby.  Yes, we have attended fairs without those two crowning glories (one fair with no food – NO food! – and another with no transportation more exotic than pony rides).  But what makes my summer complete is a bang up, hootin, hollerin, demo derby followed by something deep fried and delicious.  So we keep our eyes open for candidates.  You’d be surprised at how many fairs eschew the demolition derby demographic.

We thought, since moving to Charlottesville brings us into a decidedly more rural territory, that we’d have our pick of the (junk)yard.  We were wrong.  So far only one candidate has proven to meet our minimum requirements – the Madison County Fair.  And what a fair it was.

The Madison fair had all the standard fair features.  Cows and other barnyard 4H standards, blue ribbon arts and crafts, rides, games and food.  There was a even a tiny three ring sideshow featuring (if you believe it) a giant alligator, a Man Eating Snake of the Desert Nations and the SMALLEST HORSE IN THE WORLD.  Well, clearly, Madison County has got what it takes in the fair department.   They even have a demolition derby, bless them.

So off we went.  An hour north and $10 later, we were walking around the midway (and a wee one at that) admiring the hometown fun machine and the win-a-fish ping pong toss.  We skipped the WORLDS SMALLEST HORSE (pity) in favor of a fried twinkie and a corn dog and moved out to get a seat in the bleachers well in advance of the main demo derby event.  While our 30-some bodies practically fell apart after an hour on the hard wooden seats, we were glad we held them since it quickly became clear that this was the most happening thing going on Saturday night in Madison County.  Lawn chairs, bleachers, standing room only, there was no place to be if you didn’t have a place already.

We had local company just behind us in the form of a family of 20; mothers, nieces, Paw Paws and Aunt Sissy’s of indeterminate familial status.  Who knows if they were blood, co-workers or just benchwarmers like us, but they were friendly enough, if a bit invasive.  At one point, Maw Maw leaned over and whispered close in D’s ear, “You all wanna mint?”

Maw Maw was holding down her family’s chunk of the bleacher like an anchor dropped in sand.  Never budging an inch but taking up more and more, she spread and melted in the humidity.  Eventually, the clan formed around us into a swarming hive and we had to give up reclaiming our seats from the matriarch.   After all this, it was easy to tell they enjoyed the derby as much as we did (Ma! Ma! Did ya see that? did you?) and I got the impression they made us as comfortable as possible in the heart of the chaos.

That said, while I had already noticed that my accent was more newscaster and less rural, Maw Maw’s country drawl spotlit my yankee clang well enough to send me shamefully into whispers the rest of the night.   Or maybe I picked up a little seashore Virginian from D and called it a day.  I’m not telling, I mean, tellin.


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