Sunday, July 19, 2009

Love those county fairs

One of the best summer entertainment values for our family is a small town fair. Last summer we went to two; Saturday we took a beautiful drive on a pleasantly warm day and attended a fair with no gate fee. The girls love the animals--especially the pigs, goats, horses and cats. The pig pictured above is quite a prolific mother--gave birth to 14 litters, averaging a dozen piglets per litter. We watched a little bit of dogs performing at a show, jumping hurdles and climbing through tunnels. We looked at some of the 4-H artwork and imagined our oldest daughter might enjoy 4-H and encourage her to build some life skills. Our youngest took interest in the Elvis impersonator, as she vigorously applauded for "It's Now Or Never," a song dedicated to a couple who was engaged at that little concert.

There is not much about this fair that is particularly unique--animals, prize vegetables, rides, treats, music, etc--the usual fair fare. The crowds are manageable, the girls have a little freedom (we don't have to worry too much about one of them taking off in the crowd), they look forward to the rides, and they see things that we don't always see in our day to day life. Besides the agricultural and artistic displays, we saw an unofficial dog show. As we made our way to the fair entrance, two large (~75-100 pounds), well groomed stray dogs crossed our path. One mounted the other, like they were doing this on cue as a performance. Another family saw this as they sat in their car eating their lunch. I think each of the groups was trying to discern whether the dogs belonged to either party. Daughter #1 asked, "Are those dogs fighting?"

Dear wife: "Not really."

Daughter #1: "Are they playing?"

Dear wife: "You could say that."

Daughter #1: "Are they playing tag?" The family in the car laughed. We tried not to discourage the questions, but we had a hard time not laughing. It just didn't feel like the right time to explain dog mating, so we stuck with agreeing about the playing dogs. My dear wife and I got a lot of mileage out that scene as we made little jokes about what we saw. It's one of those cute innocent reactions from children that we can't really control and hope to convey as grace and the joys of childhood.

The girls smiled almost the entire trip--we had some great teaching moments and we come home tired after long walks and good sunshine. Thirty dollars well spent for parking, lunch, treats, a ride and some games. The girls also received stuffed animals from a generous man who won the animals playing games out of the goodness of his heart, and a free bear for visiting all of the animal displays at the fair. The clincher for me is the mountain back drop, the towering evergreens and the scones we don't get in South Dakota. We would go to a small town fair in the middle of the Mojave Desert or a rain forest, but this context was special. A good time was had by all.

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