Gary Brown: County fair a sensory experience
A county fair overloads your senses. Even just a passable fair is eye-opening and ear-popping. It leaves a filling taste in your mouth. And if you breathe deeply in the wrong barn, it’s likely to explode in your nose.
Fairs are confusing to the eyes, nose and ears. Do you listen first to the sounds of the midway rides? Or do you taste the treats at the food stands? Should you look at the prize-winning Grange exhibits? Or should you smell lunch drifting out from a band boosters building?
Maybe you should just walk along in delightful indecision, feeling the heat of the sun on your shoulders as you try to take in as much of the fair as you can, and as quickly as possible.
A fair activity
Growing up as the city cousin in a country family, county fairs are in my blood, which at fair time is approximately one-third solid sugar obtained from funnel cakes and elephant ears. Another third is a combination of the grease and vinegar I get from cups of french fries.
Apparently there is no sixth sense. During the duration of a fair, “common sense” doesn’t exist anywhere near the concession stands.
But the other senses are operating on a rush when you’re anywhere within walking distance of fair food. A mixture of the fries, corn dogs, deep-fried dough, Italian sausage sandwiches, with a hint of powdered sugar, waft out to the parking lot, where the scents mingle with the odors of freshly cut grass and farm animals.
Follow the smells to a fair. They draw you in.
Not that you’ll need their direction. The spinning Ferris wheel, the harness racing track and a grandstand filled with tractor-pull fans are trusted landmarks. So are the long exhibit halls and the tents housing a multitude of midway games. All of this sits in the middle of a residential area. It doesn’t take a Rhodes scholar to figure out which is the fair and which is a housing allotment.
If all else fails, fall in with the herd of fun-seekers heading toward the admission gates. This many people in shorts, T-shirts and soft-soled shoes aren’t going to work. Feel the ground under your feet. Sense that dirt is changing to asphalt and concrete. You’re headed in the right direction.
Once past the ticket booth, listen for fair sounds to find your way. Bleats, moos and whinnies. The sizzle of grills. A whir from the Scrambler ride. The dissonance of hundreds of voices speaking at once.
Stop to clear your throat and mind. A fair will wait.
One swallow of freshly squeezed lemonade will reawaken your senses. Do I smell an apple dumpling stand nearby?
Reach Repository Living Section Editor Gary Brown at (330) 580-8303 or e-mail email@example.com