Well, I missed it again. My State Fair finished its run without my help or attendance. And I am trying to figure out why this is.
I love the idea of the State Fair. My mother evidently did not, because the concept of driving the 100 miles to Indianapolis to look at animals and tractors was never once expressed during my youth. Now that i think of it, she never had any interest in the County Fair from her hometown either. She grew up on a farm but I have long suspected that she found her farming background something to escape from rather than to revisit.
My stepmom has long loved going to her local county fair, and I took in several of those over the years. I never cared much for the animals but loved the rides and the food. Except for that year when those two combined badly and I spent much of the evening lying in the back seat of the car, Between barf-runs to the trash barrel. My heart goes out to the folks who had to empty that one.
When I moved to Indianapolis I figured that I might start attending the State Fair. The fairgrounds is, after all, not tremendously far from my house. Like maybe three miles? And attend I have – twice.
The first time was when I volunteered to join a group working at a food concession. That evening I learned everything I needed to know about grilling ears of corn. And shucking hot ears of corn so that they could be placed into a crock pot of melted butter before being exchanged for cash so as to drip butter all over the purchaser’s shirt. But boy were they good.
But it was no fun to go to a fair by myself. Surely, I thought when I began dating the future Mrs. JPC, the State Fair will become an annual event for us. I turned out to be wrong about that.
The problem was this: My future Mrs. had grown up across the street from the Fairgrounds. In my Mrs’ youth her family would make money by parking fairgoers’ cars in their small yard. To her the fair represented nothing but noise, hassle and disruption and she was happy when they moved away from it.
But one year we somehow overcame that negative association and went to the fair. Our kids were young so we did the whole package. We rode on rides, we ate fair food, we strolled through exhibits of all kinds, and we looked at animals. Lots and lots of animals.
Why did we not go back the next year? A good question. Why do we not go back now? The ever-increasing fair admission seems like a lot of money to not ride rides, and to not eat the kinds of food we have no business eating.
We are also not fans of heat. And if we go in the evening, we run into another problem – My Mrs. serves the unfortunate role of becoming a destination for mosquitoes. Really, she has served as an early warning system for the rest of the family for as long as I have known her. A valuable role, but not an altogether pleasant one. At least for her. So between the daytime heat and the evening mosquitoes, the fair is not really a great option.
Every year is the same. As the fair approaches I get a little tingle of “this might be the year, maybe I will talk her into going.” But then the season ends, with me musing “perhaps next year” as think wistfully about a tenderloin sandwich from the Indiana Pork Producers or some fresh-made ice cream from the Dairy Barn.
For a short time it looked like we may have been able to avoid the parking and traffic by riding the Fair Train. A local railroad group ran a train to and from the Fair multiple times a day. For most of that time it made zero sense to drive about ten miles north to ride a train to a destination that was only three miles to our south.
But then they added an intermediate stop not at all far from our house. It would be perfect – we could drive about a mile to the boarding stop and take the train straight there and straight back afterwards. But then things blew up with the railroading group and the trains stopped running completely.
It has been promised that a jogging and biking trail will replace the railroad tracks, but jogging or biking all the way there so that we can spend the day walking in the sun? I don’t foresee this as part of our future.
Perhaps I should find an abandoned restaurant and go into business making and selling nothing but fair food. I know nothing about making or selling fair food, but the concept seems so ripe for profit, how can I lose? And think of the fabulous possibilities for puns in the name.
So maybe I had better finish this up and start learning how to make elephant ears, lemon shake-ups and how to deep fry everything in the snack aisle at the gas station. I see a race coming – can I get things perfected before I double my weight? It might be fun to find out.
August 11, 2017 photo by Jim Grey, slightly reduced in size and found here in its original form. Used under a CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 license. Thanks Jim!