The County Fair

Michael took me last week to the Elbert County Fair. Yeah, I was scared too. I kept hearing about the crazies at the fair, and all that. The only notion of a County Fair that I had came from tv and books, because we don't do this kind of stuff in Puerto Rico. But I am a Country Rican now so I went to the fair.

I was surprised that at first it was not as weird as I expected it to be.

For those of you who have never been to a county fair in a small country county in the deep south I will describe it for you. I took a few pictures with my blackberry- because I forgot my camera. I will not make that mistake again.

First of all you have to pay to get in which was surprising to me. but whatever. Michael had said that he expected it to take 30 minutes for us to make our way around the place. You walk through the gates and you get overwhelmed by the smell of fried foods.

I am not making fun of this, because Puerto Ricans love fried foods so it was like being home. I

never saw fried oreos before, but nevertheless, we like fried.

As expected there were lot of tables and booths selling all kinds of stuff (or junk, if you will). Some hats, T shirts, and all kind toys and candy and such. I guess the not surprising but unique portion was all the confederate stuff. A lot of rebel flags, T shirts with Civil War battle images, etc. Michael wanted me to get a pink baseball cap that said "rebel" on it and had the confederate flag on the front. I passed. Now I am almost done reading "Gone with the Wind" (for the first time) and I am completely fascinated with this subsection of society. But there is a difference between a natural curiosity and a fanaticism. See below the other item Michael offered to buy for me:
It was a Thursday night, and it was pretty crowded. I saw two of my former students hanging out, there were people of all ages and all races. There was surprisingly many Mexican food booths. I asked Michael and he says this was not a part of it the last time he went to the fair- which as you might expect was when he was in school here. Do the math, almost twenty years. The "taquerias" were all over the place and quite crowded. Real Mexican food too, think burrito stands like they have in Texas or California. I even saw a woman walk by in a sari! Elbert County welcoming the world...

Now I though the scariest part of the fair was early on. Now we all know these fairs have animal displays, and food and plant displays. School kids getting awards for growing the best tomato, etc. What I was not expecting was the taxidermy exhibit. I don't know why it surprised me, because everybody hunts around here. Most people hunt for food, a lot hunt for sport, but for displays? There were all kind of animals in there. Bears, zebras, horses, of course deer. It was a little insane. Funny thing was Michael pointed out the "Do not touch " sign. My first thought was:"Why would I want to?".

All in all the fair had interesting moments. Like the baby animals, which included a baby camel and a baby zebra:

It did not smell good, but how handsome is that country boy?

There were rides and food and a lot of games. It was not that different than "Fiestas Patronales" in Puerto Rico. In Puerto Rico there are these catholic celebrations, that are more about tradition than religion. Every town has a Patron Saint, and around his or her birthday there is a ten day party in the town square. At least that how it was when I was growing up. A lot of towns have cut it down to a four day party because of budget problems. In my home town, they have moved them from the square to the outlying area of the sports stadium. Local merchants complained about the noise and the garbage that inevitably comes with this kind of event in the town square. Not to mention the impact on businesses when traffic is redirected for ten days. Anyhow, fried foods, games and toys, rides, all a part of Fiestas Patronales. We also have live music, which the fair has also but in Puerto Rico it is a mix of really big names and beginners, where as here you would never see a big star like Mariah Carey at a fair.

There were two things missing though. In PR we have betting tables. Little horse bets, and what not. Gambling is legal and everywhere at something like this. And, more importantly: booze. We like our alcohol, and with the legal age for buying alcohol at 18, it is credible that 15 year olds are buying drinks at these kinds of events (I know I was).

So there you have it. My Rican friends can understand that a county fair is like las fiestas patronales without good music or gambling or booze. Why anyone would want to do this without a drink is beyond me. They even have their "fair people" which are like "carnies" or the infamous "machineros". Remember those? Men who might be going from town to town to run these unsafe machines people put their children on (my parents put me on them too). They may be missing teeth, and they may be looking to score with teenage girls. My US friends can understand we have something similar in PR, but it is cooler because we can get drunk there which will explain why people still go.

Oh! The scariest thing I saw:

Insert your Nabakov reference here:___________________.

Michael and I went home after 45 minutes. We stopped at the liquor store first, and then went home and watched Amelie!.


  1. county fairs are not just a southern thing. they have them all over the country ; )


  2. I know, but I ve never been to sny other one...


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