Monday, October 01, 2012

Going to the Fair

Every year my family would go to the Hillsdale County Fair. We lived in Michigan until I was about 11 years old, and I vividly remember this tradition. My parents would bundle us all up, load the car and make the one and a half hour drive. We would arrive when it opened and stay until dark.

My dad loved taking us to the fair. He grew up in Ohio and loved all things agriculture (or so it seemed to me). He never lived on a farm, but had many friends and family who did. He knew every type of farm tractor and piece of equipment. He could tell a field crop or breed of animal from the car window and would often quiz me in the car. I think I was the only kid in the fifth grade who knew the difference between a John Deere, Allis Chalmer, Massey Ferguson and International Harvester. To this day, I will notice the farm animals, crops and machinery while driving in the car. I have even been known to ask my kiddos what is growing in the fields, although all too often now it is soybeans or corn.

My fair memories are all about those machines and animals. My dad would take us to all the ag buildings. I think he faced fair day with a little spring in his step and a song on his lips. He loved visiting all the barns. We saw cattle, horses, chickens, turkeys and of course bunnies. I wanted a bunny so badly. I would plead and beg for one of my own. They were so cute and cuddly, and many were for sale. I really wanted a horse, but I knew that was out of the question. A bunny seemed like a reasonable alternative, and they were inexpensive to my young mind. My mom would tell me no about the bunny, while my dad explained far too much about the reproductive proclivity of the animal. After a break for lunch, which my mom had packed and was eaten until the same huge oak each year, we would continue our viewing of the fair. A big highlight was the small engines and tractor pulls. My parents would finally drive home when it began to get dark.

Every year I have visited my husband's family in Michigan, my parents ask if we will go to "the fair." There is never a question as to what they mean. And every year we miss it. Our previous trips have never been this late in the year until now. On Sunday, our family headed out to the fair. In my parents' tradition, we visited all the animal barns first. The kiddos were able to pet many animals. One man brought his 2 month old kid(the goat kind) out of its pen, so we could pet it. My kiddos loved this. They felt the wooly coat of sheep and saw the gorgeous big brown eyes of Guernseys. We asked lots of questions of the owners if they were nearby. Aine was particularly amazed by all the children who had animals. We looked at ribbons and tried to determine the difference between Grand Champion, Reserve and all the numbered places. In between the animals, we also viewed the home economic buildings to see the canning, sewing, knitting and domestic wares.
True to my memories of the fair, the kiddos really wanted to go on the rides. I don't remember ever going on any rides as a child or playing any games. My parents may have done the ferris wheel once, but that was it. My dad would mention going to Cedar Point instead for rides or buying me a huge stuffed animal in lieu of the games. I really wanted to ride and play, and would beg and plead (probably in between my requests for a bunny). They just didn't do the rides. In a break from tradition, our family did. My children were ecstatic about it. They each rode two different rides and regaled us with their adventures. Twice the swings were Eamon's pick. On the second time around, he grew more bold and threw his arms wide sporting the biggest grin. Benton was focused solely on the ferris wheel, which he rode with Dave. They waved to the rest of us on the ground. Aine initially stuck with Benton and flew down the big bumpy slide. She then decided the hang-glider swings were for her. She swooped and soared and declared it the best ride ever when finished. The rides were a great end to the fair. We all left with smiles on our faces. Each for a different reason.
(Photos today courtesy of David. I always like seeing how he views things through the lens just a bit differently).


  1. Totally reminds me of the PA Farm Show!! Good stuff!

  2. that looks so fun :)

  3. Anonymous12:19 PM

    fun times! i love how you're giving them a taste of your childhood experiences and memories :)

  4. what a great time! what a nice bunch of memories as well. :)

  5. Your fair looks so much like my fair :) Seems that they all have similar aspects, I love the animals the very best!! Great photos!!

  6. Anonymous6:43 PM

    This looks very much like the Altamont Fair I attended as a kid and have been bringing the boys to if we're in NY at the right time. We love the animals and supporting the smaller businesses for food (like the 4-H group that always does milkshakes :) ).