A Deep-Fried, Corn-Fed Wonderland

I'm really not sure what a county fair is really supposed to be like. My childhood memories revolve around a bazillion weird and wonderful vendors (one year my parents bought a Vita-Mix) and fireworks at the end..... not that I was a materialistic sensationalist, ahem.

Dig around a little more in my parcel of memories, and of course there were the shows (my parents had the day planned down to the minute) and all of the rows of amazing baked goods that were displayed so tantalizingly and, it seemed, a bit cruelly, since bystanders were not allowed any samples, and we were reserving our money for Vita-Mixes (and tiny glass bunnies) rather than for overpriced lumps of grease...

Oh yes, and there were animals at the fair. I vaguely remember that.

I won a goldfish once, so we can't have completely ignored the amusement park section of the fair, but I must have blocked it from my memory. To many people, the rides and games are fun, but to me they are a nightmare. How many horror stories or even just intensely terrifying scenes from books and movies take place at amusement parks and carnivals? They give me the creeps.

So I really have no idea what the county fair is supposed to be about, and that's probably because this valley exchanged agriculture for technology some time ago. But the Santa Cruz and Watsonville areas have no excuse. Why is there so little of the kitschy charm one comes to expect? Perhaps because the fair is so small. But hey, it's our fair, and that gives it all the nostalgia it needs.

Now I have much more traditional fair memories: every year we go with my Grandma, glance through the smallish exhibit halls, catch a couple shows, and gorge ourselves on deep fried artichoke hearts.

The day is always exhausting but well worth the trip.

Unlike the past couple years, this time Jack was old enough to actually participate some, which made the small animal petting zoo a little more harrowing and a lot more fun.

This year, we guiltily skipped out on waiting around forever for twenty seconds of action by the pig races and instead sat around waiting forever for much more action in the sea lion show.

It seems awfully strange to be watching a Marine World type show in the middle of what is supposed to feel like a large farm, but this is Santa Cruz county after all.

The other show we chose to sit around for was the frisbee dogs, very much tradition.

We saw the animals groomed to be food -

And the food groomed to be animals -

Marveled at the strange and stunning assortment of collections and submissions -

And were just as always taunted by the foods we couldn't eat -

Through it all--the authentic, the outlandish, and the desperately wannabe--we had a wonderful day with family, and perhaps that is what the county fair is actually supposed to be about.

0 sprinkles of fairy dust: