Monday, October 19, 2009

At the Fryeburg Fair (Heavy On the Fry)

I have to admit that I transgressed dietary rules and regs more than once during my visit to Maine. This one doesn't count though, because we gave ourselves and each other, in advance, permission to cheat. It was a county fair after all and eating a variety of food, especially fried things, is a county fair rule. The options are endless.

We arrived in the early afternoon, just in time for lunch. Inside the first ten minutes we were on a mission to find THE pizza, natural, as natural as pizza can be. We were sitting on a picnic table, munching on this oh-so-delicious first entree, when we noticed we happened to be across from the milking parlor. That's right. The milking parlor.

So, we took a break and headed for the cow barns. There was the judging of pairs going on outside the barn. Bovines of all kinds. They even included a pair of water buffalo. Mu circled 'round to photograph these and other beauties while Abby and I watched the judging.

I was reminded of the county fair of my youth. It was a much-anticipated annual event that was the culmination of our participation in the local 4-H club, ours being the Power's Light 4-H Club. I kinda like that name, looking back at it from the distance of years. I baked oatmeal cookies and sewed terrible dresses. Suzy Homemaker, I was not. But, it was called for in our family and amongst our peers. Something one did if you wanted to belong. And God knows we all wanted to "belong." My chance of taking anything to the Minnesota State Fair, however, was nil.

We spent three days in August hanging out in the animal barns 'cause that's where the boys were. Then we roamed around the midway, riding machines that bring on motion sickness just looking at them today. The Tilt-a-Whirl was what I was riding when I realized I was heading for some early trouble. His name was Bobby and he had an attitude that appealed to me then. I will avoid the C word and just say he was.... sure of himself. Before the night was out I had thrown the 4-H Pledge to the four winds, especially the first line in which I had pledged "my head to clearer thinking." We sealed the deal, my first kiss, inside the baseball dug-out, in the darkness just beyond the grandstand. Word travels fast in a small town and by the time I'd made it around the midway again the word was out and questions were asked. I played dumb. Because I was. He's a lawyer now and that's all we'll say about that.

The Fryeburg Fair is a somewhat spankier version of that early fair. The food choices, though, were very similar. After the bovines I had my official Fair Corn Dog. There is a skill to dispensing the ketchup in small rows around the perimeter. Abby mentioned that it looked like I had done this before. Yep. Countless. But, just one per fair. I had to save room for miniature sugared doughnuts. Not powdered, just regular old sugar. One bag, hot out of the grease. You close the bag, shake it up good and then you fall into a whole new grace. Albeit a temporary one. These were shared. Abby held the bag. She must have known I was not to be trusted with the entire bag. And she was right.

We followed that with fish and chips, chips being hand-cut french fries. More sharing ensued.

We took breaks from eating by checking out the other barns. There was all manner of fowl, rabbits, and horses. I have always loved the tack of a working horse and those big beauties had it in full display next to their stalls. There was even a barn of alpacas and llamas. One had such a regal stance he almost looked like a pharoah. There were many photo opps.

The eating ended when we ran out of room, individually and collectively. But not before Mu capped it off with a sausage sandwich replete with onions and such. Alright, I admit it. I did take A bite. I was trying to be a good fair-goer, that's all. It was, shall we say, a gastronomic delight.

Before we left, I tried to talk Abby into taking a Ferris Wheel ride with me, to no avail. Maybe it was one of those things that just seem like a good idea at the time. I did watch it though, keeping the lights in sight as we drove away, my nose almost pressed against the car window, quietly saying goodbye to yet another county fair. Great fun. It was good to be twelve again. Without the angst.

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