Thursday, August 28, 2014

When the Fair Comes to Town

I'm not one to go all gushy-mushy pie-eyed over the funnel-cake promises of a summer festival or even the tilt-a-whirl and beauty queen pageants of the county fair. Many a summer fair have come and gone and I've missed them all without a single regret (with the exception of my home county fair this year where my little cousin won Miss Congeniality in the most accurately awarded ribbon given all summer long anywhere, I'm sure). But the state that is a whole different herd of cattle.

I love the state fair.

No, I simply ADORE it. Maybe it's one too many Curious George episodes because that used to not be the case. Kentucky State Fair? Eh...take it or leave it...leave it most years. That was for the 4-H nerds and FFA cowboys, of which I was neither. Give me a show on Broadway any day of the week but let's just cruise right on past that fair and hit the outlet mall.

Not anymore, my friends. I'm completely eat up with the state fair.

And it could be because I'm also a little eat up with my home state now that I'm back again. I'm so very Kentucky Proud that I cook almost exclusively food grown here in Kentucky. And when friends come to visit, I load them up with Maker's Mark bourbon balls and Weisenberger Mill banana bread mix and a lovely Talon Winery red or white. I don't remember any time before now when Kentucky has had so much to offer in the way of goods and services. And the Kentucky State Fair is a 2-week celebration of all things home-grown and home-bred. I would be heartbroken if I missed it.

Last Thursday, I asked a friend who has a son that's just 6 weeks younger than Blue if they wanted to join us for a walk through the fair. They are from Colorado so I deemed it the perfect opportunity to rain down some Kentucky pride, even if it was mostly unsolicited. She said yes...even at 24 weeks pregnant. Love her heart. I owe her more than a bag of grits for walking it with me for almost 3 hours. But what a great adventure we had!

The Kentucky State Fair is held every year in August at the Louisville Exposition and Fairgrounds. It's right on I-65. You can't miss it - you can either go to the Louisville airport or the fairgrounds. There are signs everywhere. And you can see the stadium from the interstate. The farm animals are in the west wing, which most people find by following the smell and the growing number of cattle trailers. I was so preoccupied with making sure Blue did not pet a cow that I forgot to take a picture. But here are a couple from last year:

Gah...I can't believe the difference a year makes. Blue wasn't in shoes because he wasn't really walking at the time. He was mostly just stumbling from one stationary object to another. This year, he seriously would have run from one cow to another, pulling tails and cowbells if allowed.

This year, we couldn't find the evil-eye bunnies
or the pubes pigeons
or the I've-got-teets-Focker-can-you-milk-me DIY station
BUT, we did discover...
a pile of pigs...complete with one tiny pink snout peaking out from the bottom. These are potbelly pigs and now I see why Doc Hollywood had one....
and the most beautiful black and white sheep I've ever seen (OK, let's ignore the fact that his rear door is a perfect oval of black and that the guy's face is way too close to the business end of a sheep and that perfectly colored sheep has a bizarre urine-colored stain in an unfortunate spot - making him look more like me after I've done 20 too many jumping jacks at the morning workout...let's forget about all remarkable are his legs, belly, and head? Just lovely.)...
and a sheep in the shearing process (to be quite honest, Blue gets mad when I hold his head like that...I can't imagine the sheep likes it any better. Also, please don't call CPS...I don't hold Blue's head like that. Often.)...
and a pig competition (this actually is a Curious George episode - George and his country neighbor Allie, who is 6, train her uncle's pig to compete in their state fair. This is my favorite picture of the entire day. Westminster dogs ain't got nothin' on a hog with a leash)...
and the jumping chicks that had returned this year (as well as the hatching ones over in the corner. Our friends had never seen such a thing - just one more reason why we are beaming with Kentucky pride)..
and apparently the sheep from Shepherdsville made it to the fair this year.

But also there were the cakes. Oh...the cakes. You remember this beauty from last year...
Somehow it got second. Clearly, I was not asked to judge. That is blue ribbon all the way for this girl.

But the cakes were back and even better than ever....
A couple of creative cake decorators took their cues from Hollywood. And 29,000 points to me because, between the Ken Burns documentaries and the PBS specials, I've actually seen both of these flicks. Also 40,000 points to me because I've almost gotten Pandora to quit playing any music from the Frozen soundtrack on the toddler channel. It took awhile.

Several bakers were obviously inspired by the season. The big green egg with its shish-kabob contents took the blue ribbon. They actually got it right this year. Imagine what that person could do for Blue's third birthday party! Oh wait...I may be getting ahead of myself...
Even though this one didn't win any awards, I'm pretty sure she scored Mom of the Year. It's a dragon-slayer's dream. I wonder if, when you cut the dragon open, it bleeds red velvet. That's so much cooler than an armadillo.
Honorary mention goes to the one cake I think I could actually replicate. I'm not hatin' just sayin' icing, a Costco purchase of Kit-Kat bars, a few of Blue's goldfish and the rest of my stash of Swedish fish. Done, done and done. I'm making this for my birthday next month.

Lastly, as the boys started to melt down and we begged them both to take little stroller siestas, we quickly cruised through the quilt section. I've recently gotten into quilting...or, rather, the pinning of beautiful quilts and the lengthy and complicated directions on how one goes about taking up quilting. Someday. When Blue is in his 3rd semester at West Point and Neal has taken the camper on a tour of the national parks, I'm going to quilt. And it's going to be roughly as awesome as this:
I'm going to make this for Blue's son and it will be e-p-i-c. Grandmother of the Year, over here.

So that's our jaunt through the state fair. I'm omitting the live music (which you can see in just about any wing at just about any time of the day) as well as the cooking contests, beauty pageant, booths about the 126 counties in Kentucky, the health fair, the petting zoo and approximately 35 other exhibits and contests. With double the 2-year olds in tow, you have to choose your fair sights wisely. But there is so much more. If you go, make sure to grab a Krispy Kreme doughnut burger and say Hi to Freddy Farm Bureau...
He talks. He will talk to you. If you walk up to him and ask him a question, he will answer you. He's not Siri...he's Freddy. And he's been there for as long as I can remember. Almost as long as Alex, the Kroger Butcher. 
I hope y'all enjoy your long weekend. We are taking the new camper out for a spin at the local KOA on Saturday. Oh...we bought a camper. Technically it's a pop-up hybrid travel trailer, but camper sounds better when you put the word "crappy" in front of it, as I did so often when we ended up camping in the rain a few weeks ago. On the whole, it is not at all crappy. But if you are interested in following along with our adventures on that front, Neal and I have started a his/her (he said/she said) blog called Shank and Yaw. There is also a Facebook fan page. We would love to have you over! 
Happy Weekend and Cheers! 

1 comment:

  1. omg, OMG! Did my comment just disappear??


    Anyway, I'll leave a quick(er) one in the event that it didn't and I'm an idiot b/c I don't want to appear redundant BUT I will say that the pictures of your state fair are amazing and it looks to be a way bigger deal than the fairs we have here in the summertime. I love the cow with ginormous tests and also the pube pigeon, LOL!!!

    How are you, momma? You have no idea how happy it made me to see your name in my inbox the other day. Thank you for leaving me a comment. It's great to be back here today. MUAH!! And hope all is well with your family, darling!


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