Tuesday, September 22, 2009

A Visit to the County Fair

Here is a popular end-of-summer rite in New England. Most states have 'em, but they are all different. In New England, fairs have been around since the early settlers -- and some do not seem to have changed very much since the early 1800's, including this fair in Tunbridge, Vermont. Have you ever attended an old-fashioned county fair? If so, maybe this post will bring back fond memories; if not, come and take a tour!

Fairs in rural New England are usually nestled in some remote country-side, surrounded by green mountains and farms. They tend to feature livestock and agriculture, but you can't have a fair without a midway and rides, too.

Our family particularly likes this fair because they have "Agriculture Education Day", which means FREE admission for schools and home-schools! With sunny weather in the mid-'60's, we were off.

Throughout the fair grounds are old buildings, including barns, shops, and this authentic one-room school-house. Kids take a step back 150 years and get a little glimpse of life for their Victorian counter-parts.

Schools were not so "tolerant" in those days.

After school, the kids can run over to the general store. Unfortunately, due to inflation, candy sticks and lollipops are now whopping .25 each.

Further down the lane, step into a trade-woman's shop. She is hand-making colorful rugs with rags. Amazing.

Not far away, a man builds violins. A few guys play jigs and waltzes in the background:

The local blacksmiths are busy, too. They solder iron hooks, horseshoes, candelabras, toys, and tools.

After an hour or two watching how things were done in the old days, it's fun to watch our resident Civil War heroes (AKA "The Green Mountain Boys") in a drill demonstration:

Like many fairs, shows and entertainment abound -- but Vermont offers those of a more quaint variety. You might catch a square dance (and even be pulled up on stage and give it a go yourself) or a puppet show. You might also listen to a mysterious "Dixieland Band."

If you step over to the other side of the fairgrounds (after watching the pig races), you can see all the wonderful produce, artwork, baked goods, and handiwork that local people have entered with dreams of winning a blue ribbon.

The judges take their duties very seriously:

Though your head might be spinning from that amazing talent, you do not want to miss out on the highlight of the fair -- livestock. (The kiddies especially squeal with delight over the prospect of petting.)

Every farm animal you can think of is there, happily displayed by owners in pursuit of those coveted ribbons. We learn a lot about our agricultural history and see that God has greatly blessed this nation and continues to do so.

I hope you enjoyed this little visit to a rural, New England fair. We enjoyed it very much. I encourage you to take a day off and look for a fair near you. Fore-go the concessions and rides and really soak in the history and agriculture. You, too, will marvel in the ingenuity and riches of our country and learn a lot, in the bargain. Can you think of anything better than that? If you have memories of the fair (old or new), please share in the comments section! Have a blessed harvest!


Jakki said...

Old fashioned, in a very charming sort of way! Beautiful pictures...all worth posting!