Monday, August 25, 2008

#440 Grange Fair Postscript

#440 Grange Fair Postscript


(CENTRE HALL, PA) -- Making good on a promise, here's the followup to Wessay #438, "Grange Fair Preview."

It's a Friday afternoon in late August. Eighty seven degrees in the shade and a nice breeze. And for those of us who've spent a lifetime as fish out of water, there shouldn't be anything scary about this county fair, which has been going on for something like 134 years -- and seems to remain host to some of the founders. Sometimes it's hard to tell if this is Madame Tussuad's or Mars. But there are people here who look like they could have been at the first edition

Imagine this: a peaceful mountain setting and a valley housing a trailer park the size of Rhode Island. It is populated by genial people, most of them with fewer teeth than nature suggests. And more weight. Much more weight. Contiguous is a tent city of elephantine proportion. Same people, though. You can't see into the trailers and RVs without appearing nosy. But many of the tents are open, showing microwave ovens, air conditioning units, TV satellite receivers and unmade beds. It is Three o'clock in the afternoon. And although early rising is common in farm country, some people are just now greeting the day.

That's the people. The animals are a different story. Here are a couple of old goats and they've been up since dawn making sure they don't become someones goat wurst barbecue. There are numerous rabbits, some of them born this morning. There are guys ready to show you how to irradiate your lettuce -- not so you glow in the dark, but so you die from radioactivity rather than e-coli.

A knot of drummers is forming across the road. Do not expect Gene Krupa or Henry Adler among them. In volume, perhaps. In rhythm, no chance.

They gave out a 140 page book of explanation for this shebang. Nowhere in it, are there definitions for those of us who grew up mugging fourth graders for lunch money.

What's a "bratwurst?" How about a "tractor pull?" What is "kettle corn?" How do you tell a bull from a steer without getting too close.

The expectation was of a scary afternoon. It was a scary afternoon. Nice people. Nice trailers, nice tents, nice goats, nice bulls, steers and tractors, both pulled and unpulled.

But what are they all talking about? And to whom?

Shrapnel:

--Some people can't stand the sight of a full waste basket. They're very neat. And they keep the plastic bag companies in business.

--Supermarkets are offering "reusable" cloth bags. Helps the environment, they say. So how much energy does it take to manufacture and ship these things and how many times can you actually re-use them before they end up in the landfill, and why am I paying you to carry around an ad for you store when you should be paying me?

--Then, there are sleeping bags. They are models of modern technology. But you never can get them back in that teeny little pouch they give you to schlep it around.

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®
©WJR 2008

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