Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Fair

From Charlotte's Web (you may click to read book report) by E.B. White:
The night before the County Fair, everybody went to bed early. Fern and Avery were in bed by eight. Avery lay dreaming that the Ferris wheel had stopped and that he was in the top car. Fern lay dreaming that she was getting sick in the swings.
On fair day:
The children grabbed each other by the hand and danced off in the direction of the merry-go-round, toward the wonderful music and the wonderful adventure and the wonderful excitement, into the wonderful midway where there would be no parents to guard them and guide them, and where they could be happy and free and do what they pleased. Mrs. Arable stood quietly and watched them go. Then she sighed. Then she blew her nose.
"Do you really think it's all right?" she asked.
"Well, they've got to grow up some time," said Mr. Arable. "And a fair is a good place to start, I guess."
After the fair:
Miles away, at the Arables' house, the men sat around the kitchen table eating a dish of canned peaches and talking over the events of the day. Upstairs, Avery was already in bed and asleep. Mrs. Arable was tucking Fern into bed.
"Did you have a good time at the Fair?" she asked as she kissed her daughter.
Fern nodded. "I had the best time I have ever had anywhere or any time in all of my whole life."
"Well!" said Mrs. Arable. "Isn't that nice!"

Yesterday we went to the Fair with several friends. On the way up various businesses noted the annual occasion on their signs:
A business: Fair Enough
An inn: A Fair to Remember

Around Labor Day, the question on everyone's lips is "what day are you going to the Fair?" Even in these modern times, years and years after Charlotte's Web was written, it is still THE local event that ends the summer season.

Three years ago I wrote about the Fair: "Fair time is like Christmas in the way I remember all those that have gone before." And, like Christmas it can be a sad occasion if a visitor has experienced a recent loss or a divorce, as that person recalls the many fairs of happier times.

Every year it is both the same and different.

We visit the animal barns and see our own little "Wilburs."

I listened to a young boy's stories about his Polish chicken who was sleeping on his lap. We walk through the RVs and dream about traveling in such adorable homes.

The men always, always go looking at the zillions of machines for sale.

We go into the commercial hall and see everything from baskets to saddles to heating systems to homemade fudge.

We visit the arts and crafts hall and see the handmade items and garden produce which vied for those blue ribbons.

We stand by a small tent listening to a ten piece local band singing such songs as "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" bringing a tear to my eye with the exquisite harmonies, as good as any on the Grand Ole Opry .

As for the rides, I haven't gone on any since I got sick on the Tilt-a-Whirl and the swings many years ago. Today Matt told me they saw someone throw up on the Dreamcatcher and it spewed out in a mist all over everyone else. It doesn't get much grosser than that!

And then there is the food. It is junk food heaven. Anything that can be fried is on sale, from real French fries to Oreos. You can have plain fried dough or funnel cakes.

We had a perfectly wonderful time, adding the 2010 Fair to the many joyful memories of fairs past.

Could anyone look any happier?


  1. You fair looks like the pics I put up about our fair. Thanks for the thoughts from Charlotte's Web. I hadn't thought of that book for a long time.

    I realized as I was doing my post that I never went to a fair as a kid. To my teenage eyes, it was pretty magnificent.

    But those rides do me in now. Must be a sing of middle age.


  2. I haven't been to the fair in many, many years. When I was a kid and lived in other parts of Texas, we would have what was called a "Fair Day". School was released for that day and I think we all got free admission tickets.

    I love the Tilt-a-Whirl or did. Did not like the Ferris Wheel - the height. At the Texas State Fair (in Dallas), they serve fried everything too. Even fried sticks of butter. Can't quite imagine that. The funnel cake looked good.

  3. Great pictures! They bring back memories of my childhood fair-going days!

  4. Growing up, my family would go to the State Fair every summer. My brother and I would want to hurry up and go on the rides while my parents wanted to drag us around looking at all the booths and animal exhibits first. LOL As I got older, I appreciated more of the "adult" activities. It's been years since I was last able to go to the state fair, now that I live so far away. I think this is the first year my parents skipped it in the last 20 or so years . . .

  5. It looks like all the "kids" enjoyed the fair. I used to go when my children were young. I haven't been for years. I used to look forward to the corndogs. They only time I ever ate one but they were goooood.

  6. Oh, the fair! Florida has nothing to compare with the tractor pulls, the pie tent, the animal barns, and the demolition derby. Afterwards, I realized I hadn't really lived until I'd been there.

    Thanks for the great run-down and pictures. And sorry about the Tilt-A-Whirl (it's my favorite).

  7. What a fun time Nan! I love the little Wilbur. And what a lovely tradition for the end of summer. (You're right about the possibility of annual traditions being sad but how even sadder it would be not to have had the lovely memories at all!)

  8. I do like fairs like this. Fried Dough always calls my name there. The weather's been so great this weekend, we've been out enjoying it as well. Take care and enjoy Labor Day Nan.

  9. What a great and lovely tribute to fairs! Where I live is metropolitan but when I lived in Maine, we had several festivals and fairs that were events that people talked about. I liked going through the 4-H barns with the contests in everything from crafts to photography.

    I really like your first picture with the juxtaposition of the ride with the food stands.

  10. Donna - Avon Musings....September 5, 2010 at 10:32:00 PM EDT

    Hi Nan: I enjoyed reading about your visit to the fair. I had to chuckle when I read about the food. This year at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto, the thing people are apparently going crazy for is fried butter. Now I ask you doesn't that just sound wonderful. It probably has the equivalent of all the fat you should eat for a week, fried up in one serving.

  11. Indeed, it does look like a great day out! :-)
    And I can not but agree with what you wrote there: "And, like Christmas it can be a sad occasion if a visitor has experienced a recent loss or a divorce, as that person recalls the many fairs of happier times."
    My husband and I loved going to our Christmas market; often, we would go there on a Saturday around lunch time or during the week around dinner time and have our meal there instead of at home.
    When he died last year in November so suddenly, the very first time that I went to the Christmas market without him about a month later was quite difficult.

  12. Like you, I would give the rides a miss. Love the little Wilbur!

  13. "Our" fair is the Tunbridge World Fair. It is coming in another week?

  14. We go to a very small village fair every year and this year I WILL remember my camera and I WILL do a post on hasn't changed in 150 midway, just lots of animals, food, crafts, prizes and three legged races, horse pulls etc.

    Yours looks wonderful :)
    Happy Labour Day

  15. what a fabulous fabulous post - I so enjoyed the pictures and quotes...

  16. Looks like you had fun at the Fair!! Thank you for taking me down memory lane with Charlotte's Web-I love that story!!

  17. Gloria, thank you so much for coming by. I just spent a minute at your blog but will be back soon to read more slowly. Beautiful writing. I was 32 when I first got sick. Some people can't do rides even when they are kids.

    Kay, that is great! Up here it was purposely set at the end of summer so kids could show their animals, participate in the horse shows, etc. without missing school. Now they must set those events for after the school day is over. Free admission! Wow. The admission here is $12. Parking free. Fried sticks of butter, eh?!

    Rose City Reader, I'm glad.

    Literary Feline, we really can trace the stages of our lives through going to the fair. I'm sorry you can't go now. Once in a while we don't get there, but most years we do. Did your folks feel sad about missing it or did they just have other stuff going on?

    Lisa, if you lived closer we could've all gone together! There must be corndogs; there is everything else imaginable of that ilk. :<)

    J.G., Florida doesn't have state/county fairs?? I didn't see a tractor pull this year but did watch the oxen for a while. Huge creatures with such kind eyes. I've never seen a pie tent - what a grand idea! Or a cake tent!

    Sallie, I really am fond of pigs, even when they are big! And you are right about the memories.

    Bibliophile, it called to me and I answered! Thanks for your wishes for today. I have spent the hours right here rearranging my blog. It really does become another room in our lives, doesn't it? :<)

    Christy, I love that picture too. I find that I see things in a different way with a camera. I am especially fond of the photography exhibits at the fair. I've always wanted to go to the Common Ground Fair in Maine. A lot of people around here go to the Fryeburg Fair.

    Donna, oh my gosh, Kay just mentioned that too! I can't imagine. My daughter tried the fried Oreo but didn't care for it.

    Librarian, I'm sure it was. I'm so sorry.

    Scriptor Senex, all the pigs were adorable!

    Sarah, I think Tunbridge isn't quite as 'garish' perhaps? More a fair as in older times, I think. We've talked about going and really should some year. We got our electric fence from a fellow in T.

    Niki, yours sounds wonderful - like those I read about in English country villages. Right out of Miss Read! I look forward to the pics!

    Hannah, thank you. I'm pleased.

  18. Sherri, we sure did! If you click on 'Charlotte's Web' at the start of the post it will take you to my book report. It is one of my favorite books.

  19. Such a wonderful, wonderful post! I loved every bit of it! You inspired our family~stay tuned....
    Thanks for sharing!

  20. One more thing...
    Am I getting old or am I noticing that you switched up your blog appearance...when did you do that?
    Love the 'new' look!

  21. The way you started your post was pure genius!! I loved that book to pieces!!!

    the fair was always a special time for me as a kid growing up..looks like everyone had a blast!

  22. I loved this post, Nan!! It's been years since I've been to the Fair. We used to go every summer when I lived in Southern California, but I've never gone to ours here in Nebraska. Not sure why. I loved all the photos you shared, and yes, your hubby looks very happy!

    BTW, I do not care for any rides that spin. I can handle a roller coaster, but nothing that spins around and around. Ugh.

  23. Some pig!

    We are spoilt for choice in NH for wonderful country fairs, summer and autumn. And many more to come! We pride ourselves on having been to every one of the fairs in this state at least once, save one--the Cornish Fair.

  24. Such a fun day!! I love the quotes from CW. I can remember the chapter but had never noticed the Mr and Mrs Arable exchange - it really is universal - and at every stage. My baby is turning 20 - no more teenagers in the house *sniff*

  25. Joanne, thank you so much. And you are right! - I spent hours on Labor Day reworking the blog. I wanted to eliminate the sidebars and just have one post up at a time - clear, simple, easy to read - the info stuff (book stuff, recipes, archive, letter topics, bloglists) is now either in the little squares right under the banner or following the post.

    Staci, thank you very much! We did have such fun.

    Les, are you a long way from a NE fair?

    Margaret, as always you amaze me!

    Island Sparrow, E.B. White gets it just right whatever he is writing about. I so love his work. And CW is the best!

  26. Oh, Nan! I never cease to anticipate the fair without thinking of Charlotte and Wilbur. The girls are saving their quarters to feed the goats at the fair. What a beautiful tradition it is.

    I wanted, too, to thank you for your beautiful thoughts and links on my latest post. Why have we lost the connection between good learning and good eating? It makes me deeply sad.

    And...on a completely unrelated note: Sunday night's Mad Men may have been the single best hour of television I have ever watched. I thought of you and wondered if you experienced it as I did: The depth of layering of the characters has become almost literary.

  27. June, we have to wait till the dvds come out because we gave up our satellite dish. I'm trying not to read much about it. Did you happen to see the new cover of Rolling Stone? It has Don in the backseat of a car with 'his' blonde, brunette, and redhead.

  28. Looks like a fun time! I enjoyed your photos.

  29. Our state fair used to be in Lincoln, but has since moved to Grand Island, which is about 100 miles west of us. Should've gone while it was here in town!

  30. I really like the new layout, Nan. You've inspired me to do a little more de-cluttering and spring (oops, fall) cleaning.

    Thank you for this post--it was so nostalgic for me. We went to the Deerfield Fair in NH for so many years, and as you said, each time had a little bit of all the other times in it.

  31. Charlotte's Web - one of my favorites from my childhood (both the book and the movie).

    Your photos are amazing and I'm drooling over the funnel cake.

    This entire post brings back wonderful memories from my childhood.

  32. Nan, I just popped in to recommend a book to you. I'm currently reading Icons of England edited by Bill Bryson and I know you would *love* it to bits. Perhaps your library might have it.

  33. Thanks, Nan!

    Les, yeah 100 miles is a ways to go, though some people up here do travel to fairs and stay a few days.

    Thank you, Clair. I am really, really happy with it. I love the buttons on top too. We went to the Deerfield Fair one year.

    Kittie, I have a picture of little Margaret (probably under five) watching CW for the first time and she has such sadness in her eyes. It is truly a wonderful book and movie. Where was your childhood fair?

    Cath, thank you, thank you! Forget the library, I'll buy it!


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