Because of the pandemic, there are no county fairs this year. Boo! Now how are we going to get our fix of judging, jostling and junk food?
Turns out with a little imagination and a touch of domestic upheaval, you can replicate a county fair in your very own home! Or possibly someone else’s home if they’re away for the long weekend.
It’s unlikely there’s much in the way of animal husbandry taking place on your premises, or even animal wifery, which is just like husbandry except never wrong. But remember: “cow” is just two letters away from “cat,” so they’re practically the same thing.
What you want to do is line up your cats in a row. You can do this by putting out separate food bowls, because cats are pigs (but also cows, don’t forget). While they’re eating, you slowly walk along behind them, admiring such things as “haunches,” “topline” and “muzzle.” But mostly, as at the county fair, you stare at their buttholes. This is perfect, because cats love showing you their buttholes.
If you’re like me, you probably put in a vegetable garden this spring, planting seeds with care in straight rows, nurturing transplants and keeping vigil over young sprouts.
Well, that all went to hell.
As we reach the fall, you can replicate the fair-going process by strolling through your garden and eyeballing your flowers and produce. Stare at your tomatoes. That’s it. That’s all you have to do. Just stare at them. Yup, it’s a tomato, all right. And over there: another tomato. Very… tomatoey.
As for judging, your neighbour probably has a garden too. Take a peek. Look at all their weeds. Judge them.
Make some tea.
You know that kitchen drawer where you keep the doilies and tea cozies and hand-sewn placemats your mother-in-law has given you over the years that you never use but can’t bring yourself to throw away? Open it. Handiwork. Done.
Find yourself some small children. Throw craft supplies at them: pipe cleaners, construction paper, popsicle sticks, macaroni, mod podge. Find out what the hell mod podge is. Tell them they have three hours to prepare entries for multiple categories (“Painting With Feathers Stuck On,” “Structurally Unsound Boat,” “Portrait of Humanoid”). Put them all on display. Give every one of them a prize. Tell the children what a good job they did and how proud you are. Throw everything away.
Open your fridge and stare inside for awhile. Look at all the different food items. Imagine what they taste like. Now, invite a stranger into your home (social distancing!) and ask them to sample everything and tell you which is best. Pay special attention to the jams! (Note: make sure your fridge jams aren’t five years old, which is possible.) Take his word for it.
This might take some doing. You need to go through your house and find all the junk you don’t really need or want. Set up several tables in your back yard and distribute items by category. (If you have collections of cowboy hats or sun catchers, now is the time to put them in play.) Ask family members to man each table. Finally, for your full county fair experience, walk past the tables doing your best to avoid eye contact.
Remember all that stuff in the fridge? Cook it all at once. In grease. Hot dogs? In grease. Vegetables? In grease. Yogurt. Grease. Now eat it all. Then spin in circles for 10 minutes straight. For extra hallucinogenic effect, try sampling some of that questionable five-year-old jam. Unfortunately, you can’t replicate the crowds, but you can probably find some local tweens to come by and shriek in your ear. As for games of chance, pull out the garden hose and see if you can hit the “targets” on your “livestock.” Then throw 20 dollars in the garbage. Bonus: Depending on your situation, watch your neighbours have one too many beers.
You can’t sit around and watch barrel racing but you do have that old wheelbarrow, and barrow racing has its thrills and definitely spills. (Check your records to ensure your tetanus shots are up to date, just as you would for the real fair.) But sadly, you can’t catch up with those old friends you tend to only bump into once a year at the fair, nor are you likely to have a live concert in your back yard. But I can offer you a song:
Ohhhhhh…. There ain’t no durn fair but the fair will endure
Like the trust of good friends and the smell of manure
Yes, the fair will be back for the old folks and young ’uns
Then we’ll all stare at cows’ butts and eat bloomin’ onions