We are going to the fair!
We have photos of taking Veronica to the fair every year since she was born. One of our favorite things is to get her into the goat pen.
The Los Angeles County fair has a big pen of goats, a scattering of sheep and a handful of alpacas. It’s free to go in but you have a pay a small fee for the Dixie cup of food you can give the goats.
The goats are very aware of the Dixie cups at all times. Veronica can hand feed a pellet at a time and be the center of attention. When she was shorter than the goats, this was a scary scene. Now that she has some height on them, it’s a lot more gleeful
But it’s always been gleeful.
It turns out that the county fair, and it’s descendent the state fair, are a product of the industrial revolution. A by-product, perhaps. The first one took place in England, the year after America’s declaration of independence, and it took almost a hundred years for the American states to take it up.
Wikipedia calls them agricultural fairs, because they happen in lots of places. They have animals and cooking and crafts–homey things. Homemade things. It’s a celebration of things that are not industrialized. Australia calls them Royal fair. I hear Jamaica has a phenomenal fair.
New York had the first American state fair, which continues into the present in Syracuse. More than a million people a year go.
My home state Alaska, whose fair I was deeply involved in as a teenager, is a big deal. I knew it was a big deal. I raised farm animals–pigs, cows and rabbits. My brother and I showed them at the fair and won prized. We had to drive to the fair every day to feed then, and clean their stalls. This let us get into the fair for free and see all the fantastic sights.
One of my favorite things to see was the punk rock hairdressing booth, where women would take your money then give you a stiff spiked and colored Mohawk for the day. They played rock and roll and made you one of them.
I was far too afraid to do this myself. Also, my hair doesn’t do that. Does it? But I could watch endlessly while taking a break from cleaning my pig’s stall.
The fair was always a magical place to me. It had a special place in my heart. It was my fair.
Looking into it, I find that maybe it was not so unique to me. Of all the state fairs, Alaska’s state fair gets the highest number of people visiting, especially when you take into consideration the low population of the state.
The Alaska state fair gets a whopping 40% of the ENTIRE STATE to come to see. That beats out Texas, which has four state fairs just to cover the territory. North Dakota is almost as popular, with 39%.
It is startling to realize I come from a place with a culture that values the fair.
Here, in Los Angeles, the agricultural roots are being forgotten. The fairgrounds are beautiful, with historic buildings from the 20s and 30s. And they do have contents for homemade things.
And we can’t forget the goats.