As many times as Iíve been around the newspaper block, Iíve come to appreciate a little something about each of Chenango Countyís many seasonal events and festivals. Taking advantage of our limited window of good weather, we sure do manage to pack a lot of fun into the summer months.
Iím pretty sure Iíve stated in this column before that my favorite of these events is Colorscape Chenango, and it is. But having spent quite a bit of time at the Chenango County Fair this week (and more today, on a field trip with my Evening Sun kids), Iíve come to a newfound respect for this event Ė and to a profound conclusion ...
While Colorscape represents everything I want Chenango to be Ė vibrant, creative, pretty and tasteful Ė the Fair is what Chenango really is Ė homegrown, scrappy, abundant and yes, even a little dirty. It is, perhaps, the best representation of who we are as a county on the whole Ė from Snobís Knob to Poverty Pitch. Whether you go for five minutes or five days, there literally is something for everyone at the county fair.
I like going for the music Ė both the local and the farmed in. Les Dudekís show Tuesday night was amazing, and free. (A quick shout out to the Chenango Blues Association here for their five weeksí worth of free shows. Not only was the music top-notch, but the community spirit that an evening in the park engenders was priceless. Itís a shame, as one of my friends remarked, that itís only socially acceptable to hang out in West Park when thereís a band playing. We really should do that more often.)
Thereís the food, of course. That wondrous mix of the shockingly unhealthy and delectably tempting that only a once-a-year dose of fair cuisine can provide. Deep fry it and douse it with powdered sugar, and Iíd day say Iíd eat ... well, you fill in the blank.
Iím fascinated with peopleís seemingly magical ability to plant things and make them grow. While itís an art clearly beyond my ken, I love seeing what people produce, and display, in the Floral Hall. The landscapes dreamed up by the various local garden clubs this year were spectacular.
The animals are of course a huge attraction. City boy that I am, I donít come up close and personal with cows and goats that often. But what was up with the pink chickens?
Admittedly, too, thereís a certain fascination in scoping out the freaks of nature (and by that I mean the ones in the funhouse, of course), but the wonders of the fair go far beyond the midway. And even after so many years in the trenches, I still feel thereís so much to learn about what goes on there. Tractor pulling, for example. I just donít get it. Goat judging? A mystery. Dream catchers and touch lamps? Out of my league. But in each, thereís a draw to learn more ... and to learn more about those who already know.
Carnies aside, the people you see at the fair are your friends and neighbors Ė hard-working folks showing off the fruits of their labors in the exhibition halls and livestock barns. Itís what the fair is supposed to be all about, in fact. Not fried dough or the Zipper Ė agriculture. Still our number one industry, and our richest tradition. And nothing shows it off better than these six days of summer.