If you tried to figure out what farm life is like judging by what you see at the state fair, you’d get the impression that today’s farmer spends his entire day driving in demolition derbies, eating fried dough, racing tractors, playing cow-plop bingo, eating deep-fried Twinkies, eyeballing teenage girls wearing low-rise jeans and wrapping pizza slices in bacon. How much more down-home can you get?
It’s like opening the front door of “Little House on the Prairie” and finding out Ozzy Osbourne moved in and redecorated. Oh, there are still farm things at the fair: rabbits the size of Volkswagens, cows the size of SUVs and pigs the size of sofas. If there’s a difference between a blue-ribbon cow and the first runner-up, I couldn’t spot it. It must be something she did during the talent competition.
As everywhere, gangs have infiltrated the fair. Their hoodlum symbols were everywhere – a green four-leaf clover with an “H” on each leaf. Instead of guns and knives, they carry pitchforks and cattle prods and speak in their own coded language: “Second cutting,” “freshening,” “walking fence,” “milk house,” “dry barn,” “tedders,” “spreaders” and “loaders” are just some of the words they use to communicate with their brethren.
In the big-dairy states, there is usually a butter sculpture. It is typically a tribute to some famous work of art, with life-sized figures carved entirely out of butter and displayed in a massive glass-walled refrigerator. One year I saw a butter Mount Rushmore and Rodin’s “The Thinker.” No doubt he was thinking about how clogged his veins were. Next year’s sculpture will be a butter statue of a man lying on the floor clutching his chest in agony.