"Our state fair is the best state fair in our state," is a song in the movie "State Fair." The 2010 cast starred Todd, Sharla, Audrey, Tess, BW and me last Saturday.
The fair overloaded my senses with the familiar and the unfamiliar. We watched Audrey and her jump rope team. BW's smile was so wide she could have eaten a foot long corndog sideways. The huge John Deere tractor-powered shuttle emitted the smell of soy diesel mingled with the dust kicked up by thousands of feet. The whiff of used corn in the pig barn and the gentle grunting and sniggling sounds of piglets feasting at Ma Sow's Diner took me back to the farm. None of the piglets was "disgruntled."
Sheep "baaaaad mouthed" their handlers as they were bathed, sheared, lead to the show ring and forced to accept the thousands of unfamiliar hands petting their warm, carpeted backs. A teenage girl invited Audrey and Tess to sit on her dairy cow's rump. "It felt weird," Audrey said. Italian Sausage fixin's dripped down my chin while a glistening lemon shake up expelled thirst from my parched throat.
There were no "neighsayers" as horses clip clopped into the coliseum. Some cows displayed their bad "Mooood" at being in the hot barn. Lion's head and Siamese rabbits allowed us to pet them as their owner's eyes shone with pride.
I was reminded of how sad, forlorn and naked the midway looks in the day time -- and hot. Carnivals are meant to be nocturnal and function best under the starry sky. I wondered at the paucity of farm implement displays compared to yestreen. The field used to be filled with Farmall, Ford, John Deere, Massey Harris, Allis Chalmers, Ferguson, Oliver, Cockshutt, Case and Minneapolis Moline. Today John Deere green remains.
Draft horses are amazing docile mountains of muscle. We tasted the sweetness of corn from the Lion's Club booth, crunchy elephant ears, the coolness of ice cream and helped Tess eat a snow cone that gave her a blue tongue. We marveled at the number of busses and trucks needed to transport people and equipment for the Rascal Flats performance. The walk across the dirt track in the infield brought a flood of memories about the times the Rambler Band marched in the Farmer's Day parade. Standing beside the communication building took me back to when I saw Captain Stubby and the Buccaneers and The Hoosier Hotshots air their radio program from inside. Sutter's salt water taffy is in the same place as the first time I went fairing.
The Pioneer Village has its own aura of the blacksmith forge, the swirling blizzard of chaff churning out of the threshing machine, grist being ground into flour, the smell of freshly sawn lumber; men in bib overalls, straw hats, red neck kerchiefs and brogan shoes. As they assembled around the table in the old time kitchen for lunch, it was yesterday once more. I joined my family and neighbors in memory as we ate and laughed together. At the coliseum it was 1958 again where we watched Tennessee Ernie Ford sing 16 Tons and Molly Bee and The Mills Brothers. That same year I sauntered up to the dairy bar where the sign said, "All the milk you can drink for a dime." I plunked down a dime and commenced to drink glass after glass of cool cow squeezins. After a time I was cut off. "But the sign says all the milk you can drink for a dime," I muttered. "That is all the milk you can drink for a dime," the manager 'uddered.'
Larry grew up north of Calvertville on a farm and graduated from Worthington High School. He lives in Plainfield and can be reached at Goosecrick@aol.com or (317) 839-7656. Write him at 6860 Sunrise Drive, Plainfield, Ind., 46168. He has written five books.