There are plenty of reasons to go to the county fair. Some go for the farm animals, some for the arts and crafts, others go for the rides and carnival games, some even go for the talent performances. None of those are why I go to the fair. Of course I do enjoy checking out those aspects of the fair, but they are not why I look forward to it every year. My purpose for going to the fair, my mission, if you will, can be summed up by a single word: food.
Yes, the main reason that I make the trek across the county to the crowded grounds is to eat as much food as I possibly can. The only sad thing is that I never eat as much as I intend. It is inevitable that something else will catch my eye, or my stomach proves not to be quite as big as I thought it was, or some other factor intervenes to curb my enjoyment of all the fair has to offer.
This year, the day that I was able to go proved to be the hottest one of the celebration. Temperatures reached the upper 90s and humidity was very high. Now, if you know me, you will know that heat and I do not get along. Not at all. I was dripping with sweat the entire day, while my exposed flesh started to cook in the bright sunlight. I swear, I was beginning to feel like the various roasted and grilled foods I was eating. Still, I did my best to partake in what I could, knowing there was going to be much I would miss out on, despite my best efforts.
When I left, I knew I had eaten all I could, yet I still felt the pangs of regret knowing all of the good eats I had to leave behind. I could also hear the cries of the chicken, the whimpers of the beef, the absolute anguish of all things fried as I left through the exit gate. They, too, were devastated that I would not be able to eat them. Rest assured, there is always next year. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I arrived at 11:00. My first goal was to get something to eat. You see, I had not yet had anything and was beginning to hear the whispers of the food. Not the vendors mind you, the food itself was calling to me, imploring me to choose them. At this point, allow me to say that I am not one for onions and peppers, so I shy away from the sausage and peppers and cheese steaks. I also tend to avoid the standard issue hamburgers and hot dogs, preferring the things I couldn’t get at the local fast food joint. I also don’t go for pizza. Honestly, who goes to the fair for pizza?
The first place I headed when I got through the gate was a building which plays host to Blondie’s. They had a new item on the menu, a chicken bacon ranch pita. Now, I have to say that this particular item was absolutely delicious. The pita shell was fresh, and it was filled with a generous amount of grilled chicken, whole pieces of cut up strips of bacon (none of that diced bacon bit stuff), piled high with chopped lettuce and tomato, and finally drenched in ranch sauce. This was a very easy, if slightly messy, eat. Paired with a Pepsi, this was a great way to start the day.
While letting that settle, I took the requisite pass through the animal shed. It is not my favorite part of the day, obviously, but the fair is never a complete experience without getting a nose full of cow manure. This was a quick visit, followed by a pass through the old farm tools exhibit. This is always kind of neat, seeing the ingenious gas-powered tools used to cut logs, split wood, move water, and other necessary jobs.
With the animals and old engine tour done, it was time for something else to eat. This time I went to a stand advertising boneless pork rib sandwiches. I went over and ordered one up. “Onions and peppers?” they asked. “No, thank you,” I responded. I took the nicely sized rib on a bun, smothered in barbecue sauce, found a place to sit, and took a bite. Oh, heavenly pork product. Not quite as tasty as the pita I had earlier, but still quite good. It was tender and the sauce had a nice flavor. That went down with a bottle of water.
After that, a journey up to the craft buildings was in order. There were all sorts of vendors selling all manner of goods. Rain gutters, leather jackets, belts, stone carvings, local food stuffs (like hot sauces and coated nuts), crystals, painted slates, you name it, you could probably find it. That led to a walk through the rides area, a place I knew better than to partake in, considering the food I was hoping to eat.
Our next stop was the pig races, a fair tradition that I find humorous, but not terribly exciting. What it did do was get me ready for something cool. Obviously I stopped by a cart selling root beer floats. There is something magical about the combination of soft serve ice cream and the god of sodas. It was a good size cup and had plenty of ice cream in it — perfect for cooling off on this excessively hot day.
Next stand to visit was the one run by Native Americans from Arizona. They sell all manner of jewelry and fetishes (small, intricately carved animals made of various stones). These small items are very cool in the level of detail and craft put into each one, however they were a little out of my price range.
We left that tent and made our way to the roast corn stand. This is a recent discovery for me. Ears of corn, roasted on a grill in the husk, then shucked, coated in butter and salt and ready to be devoured. Quite delicious.
The corn was washed down with a lime fizz, which was quite disappointing. It started off really tasty and fizzy, but it quickly turned into this watery, nasty tasting fluid. It did serve a purpose, though, as it was filled high with ice and felt extraordinarily good when placed against the face, its icy coldness latching onto my sweat covered face.
By now the heat was starting to get to me, and the chicken and pig in my stomach were fighting over the corn in a sludge of lime fizz and root beer. I was seriously wondering if I was going to be able to satisfy my quest to eat myself into an absolute stupor. I tell you, it wasn’t looking good.
A little more walking around, which led to my purchase of a new belt and a skull crafted from stone, allowed me to be get closer to eating some more. By now, it was getting later in the afternoon and my body was about to give out, but I still had a little bit of room left.
One sandwich place I always like to visit sells pork and roast beef sandwiches, while the spits cooking the meat are out on display tempting anyone who walks by. Since I already had pork, I opted for the roast beef.
“Salt, pepper, horse radish?”
“Just salt and pepper.”
I took my sandwich and a root beer, found an empty bench and bit into the tender slices of meat. It is absolutely delicious. This is a stand that always has one of the longest lines of any of the vendors there. It is worth all the time you need to wait for it.
The last thing that I was able to fit in was a fresh fruit smoothie, a delicious concoction of strawberries, bananas, and ice. It had a delightfully crunchy texture from the ice and strawberry seeds. Very refreshing at the end of a long hot day, even though I hadn’t intended on that being the case.
Now to give you an idea of what I missed. I love to finish the day with a shake from the 4H stand, they are easily some of the best things you’ll ever taste, but time did not allow for it. Then there were stands with fresh cut French fries, fried dough, chicken and shrimp skewers, cream puffs, hot pretzels, frozen bananas, deep fried Oreos, deep fried candy bars, deep fried pickles… the list goes on and on.
Oh yes, the day isn’t finished until you pick up a bag of fresh roasted peanuts to take home. These things are fantastic.
Okay, that about does it for the day. The food was great, the sun was high, and I was completely exhausted by the time I got home. Next year I will have to work on my stamina.
The lesson of this is work out your stomach in time for the fair, work on your heat and sun endurance, and eat anything and everything you can.
Stands and stuffs pics:
Me at the end of the day: