More American than Apple Pie?
We are rapidly approaching “County Fair Season”. Okay, so there is actually no officially recognized season for county fairs but usually, you can count on them from about mid-July to early October. They are very high on my list of favorite things to do. Fair food is like no other although, in all honesty, I have never tried a deep fried twinkie and sour pickle sandwich with tuna fish dipping sauce. I am however addicted to those giant smoked turkey legs, Australian deep fried potatoes, funnel cakes with strawberries and whipped cream, and those 18 inch grilled sausages smothered in fried onions and peppers followed by an invigorating ride on the Typhoon Orbiter !!
If you have never been to a county fair you are missing out on Americana at it’s best. Word seems to get around about the newest crazy deep-fried inventions each year and they are at most fairs. What is unique about each individual fair is the local touch that showcases the different folks and life across America. One of the best county fairs I have ever been to is the Fryeburg Fair in Fryeburg, Maine. I have never seen such enormous draft horses. I am 6’5” and these workhorses towered over me. The combination of power, strength, agility, and grace these beasts have is stunning. They are not something you would normally see at the Orange County Fair in Southern
California, although the piglet races at OC Fair are hilarious. This little piglet must have trained at Churchill Downs because he knew to go wide on the final turn and snatch victory from certain defeat.
County fairs showcase the talent of locals from little kids to seniors in all hobbies and skills as cooking, painting photography, antique collecting, woodworking, table setting and whatever you can possibly imagine that can be done with your hands and your mind. One fair I attended had an exhibit of aquarium designing. It was for little kids and all the aquariums were the same 10-gallon size. I never knew that superheroes operated underwater. Whatever theme the kids could possibly imagine was turned into a functioning living aquarium with live fish. The talents that everyday humans have that you may never have imagined or thought of is all on display at county fairs. The fair is where we, the folks, get to showcase our love and passion for our respective hobbies in either competition or just to exhibit. County fairs show off the pride and the best in our communities.
I am continuously impressed with the kids that are involved in 4-H and Future Farmers of America. The skill and passion they exhibit for the many animals under their care will make you proud of our youth.
Some of the older fairs have unique competitions. The Fireman’s Muster at Fryeburg Fair is a competition worthy of your time when you understand that nearly 75% of firefighters in America are volunteers. The vast majority of small towns and rural communities rely on skilled volunteer firefighters.
Many fairs lay claim to being the “oldest county fair” in the US. Quite a few of them will be celebrating their 200th anniversary this year so this is a great year to go County Fair hopping. Expect to see some incredible 200-year celebrations and events. Like my Grandma’s apple pie, and your Grandma’s apple pie…they are all spectacular!!
A great RV trip for late this summer would be a tour of some of America’s oldest county fairs. Here is a partial list of some of them happening in 2017.
York County Fair York, PA 252 years (1765-2017) September 8-17
Three County Fair Northampton, MA 200 years September 1-4
Jefferson County Fair Watertown, NY 200 years July 11-16
Knox County Fair Bicknell, IA 217 years July 17-22
Steuben County Fair Bath, NY 198 years August 15-20
Fryeburg Fair Fryeburg, ME 166 years October 1-8
The exciting news for us RV enthusiasts is that many of the fairs offer RV camping for the run of the fair.
If you are on the road this late summer and early fall, treat yourself to one of America’s oldest and more enjoyable experiences, the good old County Fair. I promise you will not regret it… even if you dig into that deep fried twinkie and sour pickle sandwich with tuna fish dipping sauce.
Until next time, be happy and safe in your travels and please feel free to comment below.