'Tis the Season for State and County Fairs
By Lynn Blamires feature writer for My Local Utah
Going to a county or state fair is like taking a walk down memory lane for most people. That is because just about everyone grew up going to the fair. That includes several generations because the first American fair was presented in Windsor, Nova Scotia in 1765.
Fairs became a thing before the Civil War
Fairs became a thing when the first six fairs in California were established during the 19th century before the Civil War. Now there are approximately 2,000 state and county fairs nationwide.
Their origin is found in agriculture. Farmers and ranchers were looking for education in crop production, raising better herds, and preserving food through the winter.
4H Clubs Involve Children in the Fair
The 4H clubs involve children at an early age. It is a big responsibility to take care of an animal and to have it ready to show at the fair. Their reward was to win ribbons and then to sell the animal at the fairs’ auction. Collecting the money was a highlight of a year’s work.
My early years at the Oklahoma State Fair
Being a drummer, I always looked forward to fair week. The high school band marched in the Oklahoma State Fair parade in the morning and then we got to spend the rest of the day at the fair.
Because of our participation in the parade, we were given tickets to a grandstand event. That could be a demolition derby or a demonstration by Thrillcade – a daring show that used cars, trucks, and motorcycles.
The cow barn had a dairy booth. They served a chocolate shake for 20 cents which went well with the grandstand show. At my age, it was fun to just be with friends and not have to worry about what our parents were doing.
Early Years Relived at the Box Elder County Fair
I relived those early years when I went to the Box Elder County Fair in Tremonton this year. The crowds on the fairways, the food booths, the bands, and the animal barns brought back a lot of memories.
As I wandered into one of the animal barns, I could see young people grooming sheep and goats. The ribbons had already been awarded and they were lined up for the auction. I could hear the babble of the auctioneer as he did his best to get the price up as high as he could.
I strolled through the barn with crafts on display. The walls were lined with beautiful quilts. All sorts of crafts were displayed. There has to be a competition for just about anything you can imagine.
Food Fare at the Fair
This article would not be complete without a discussion of the unique foods you will find at the fair.
Deep fried everything
While corn dogs are not unique to fairs, it is a sure bet that you will find them there. Food trucks and amusement parks have cashed in on their popularity.
Fried foods are the most popular. I think someone thought that if I can make corn dogs, what else can I batter and fry? Consider this list – funnel cakes including red velvet funnel cakes, cheese on a stick, fried Oreos, pickles, bubble gum, PBJ sandwiches, candy bars, cheesecake, cookie dough, and s’mores. One I would like to try is a battered and deep-fried hamburger patty on a bun with all the fixin’s. The one that really surprised me was the deep-fried butter on a stick. Diets go out the window at fair time.
Corn on the cob is fried, but not battered. The husk is pulled back and used as a handle and after it comes out of the fryer, it is dipped in hot butter.
Cotton Candy is a favorite with the kids. Kettle corn and churros are also popular and for some reason, BBQ turkey legs are a hit.
I also look for the “twisted taters” stand. A huge baker potato is sliced by an attachment hooked to a drill motor that turns the potato into one continuous slice that is deep fried and stacked on a plate. This is definitely fair food.
No fair is complete without the midway. The midway has the rides, the games, the side shows, and all the vendor booths, selling things that you will often only find at the fair. The rides are where you lose everything you ate at the fair. A fair has to have a Ferris wheel and a merry-go-round, but you will find other rides to test your tummy and that you can dare your friends to ride.
There is musical talent playing every day at the fair. It is a chance for some local talent to get a leg up in the music world along with the big names that draw the crowds.
A rodeo is a part of a great fair along with a car show, a demolition derby, and antique farm equipment demonstrations. There is something for everyone at the fair. That is why it is the place to be when the weather begins to turn cool in the fall.