All’s fair: Torrential downpours and fried Oreos

Like everyone in Trumbull County has been saying, “It’s raining – must be fair week.”

The Trumbull County Fair is back, as it has been for so many summers. And, of course, it has to rain.

Maybe the first fair in 1800 and something they were up to their knees in water. Chickens floating by, pies getting soggy. Fairs are steeped in tradition, and the Trumbull County one is a wet one. Just be thankful now we have all-wheel drive instead of buggies.

I recall the logo for the fair featuring the scrolling typeface on T-shirts from my youth. We are in the 167th year of the fair, though I only remember the last few dozen. I’m sure the first couple were still interesting, minus the Scrambler and fried Oreos.

Fairs are a strange piece of Americana. The idea of towns coming together for food, livestock, produce, fun and music is not altogether unusual, but the sort of “cult of the fair” that has evolved is unique.

I always wondered what it would be like to live at the fair for a week, to live in a sort of weird town that springs up once a year and vanishes after a week, like Brigadoon with manure.

I would love one of those deluxe campers I see set up beyond the parking lots; garden lights outside, folding chairs, portable barbecue, and always some little yippy dog just hanging out on the Astroturf they roll out.

It’s like a really cool, very compact vintage camping park set up within walking distance of your choice of gyros or sausage sandwiches and miniature ponies. I could handle that for a week.

Everyone has their favorite part of the fair. But that all changes depending on your age; the rides don’t really hold your attention once you pass 13 or so. But before that, you’re losing your flip flops on the Yo Yo and squashing your friends on the Muzak Express all day long.

When you get older, just strolling the midway and socializing in a world free from parents is the big draw. And then enjoying the baby piglets and ponies that you thought were too lame when you were a little kid.

The seven deadly deep-frieds is a sin for any age that can only be repented with many miles of post-summer jogging -“Forgive me, father, for I have funnel caked.”

I have some Trumbull County Fair memories, some more faint than others. I remember back when they had actual freak shows, being in a hot tent with my parents about age 7 or so, watching as a carnival geek (can we still call them that? I’m not sure of the carnival etiquette) shoved a steel skewer through his cheeks.

I woke up in a bed of grungy straw.

Fainting at the sight of the human pincushion would seem odd in later years, when I fell prey to the piercing craze and would see many needles pierced through stuff. I guess if it’s at Lollapalooza and not a stuffy fair tent, it helps, kinda?

I also remember patronizing the fair’s awesome T-shirt tent. Some shirt company would set up at the fair with all kinds of awesome bands T-shirt, the likes of which I never saw at the Eastwood Mall. I would clean up; I still wear the Misfits shirt I got there when I was 16. This was before we had a Hot Topic, so my excitement about going shopping behind a bunch of cows can be forgiven.

If you check out the fair this year, have fun. Enjoy what the fair is all about; the fruits that Ohio farmlands produce, and the fun to be had after the harvest. And for goodness’ sake, keep your dad away from the hot tub and giant tractor salesmen. They know dads just can’t walk by.