For the first time in twenty years I spent a day at a county fair. I went with a friend to the San Diego County Fair at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, roughly twenty miles north up the coast from San Diego.
It felt good reminding myself of all the things that still exist at county fairs, and those things that if I see them every twenty years that’s just about right. The livestock barn with all the cattle still had all the cattle; the sheep and goat and poultry barn was next door.
I did discover that the sheep spent most of their day encased in spandex wrappers, most brightly colored, so that their coats stayed clean and white.
There was fair food everywhere–pork chops on a stick; fried chicken; roasted corn on the cob; strawberry shortcakes; every variety of sausage or hot dog or hamburger; even fish and chips. And the beer gardens, where for a mere eight dollars and twenty five cents you may purchase a plastic cup of imported draft beer. (Domestic only costs seven dollars and a quarter.) I bought a beer and we sat on the edge of the fountain in the beer garden and watched the crowd. A very polite young man, too young to drink, informed me that my jacket was dragging in the fountain. I thought this was nice of him, as he didn’t have to say anything at all.
The two highlights of the day were, first thing, the Turkey Stampede. This event showed three times a day, and was sponsored by the same people that own and operate the Oasis Camel Dairy in Ramona, California. The turkeys chase a remote controlled red truck named Big Red because Big Red’s bed is full of turkey food. The Big Red we saw was Big Red number nine. It seems the turkeys don’t just stop at eating the food in the bed of the truck, but have a penchant for pecking the truck to death once the bed is empty. There is also “Turkules,” (named after the strong man Hercules) who is such a big and fat turkey that his top speed is about 100 yards an hour. There were three kids in the racetrack area competing in a turkey calling contest when Turkules came down the ramp all big and black and scary looking. The three of them ran jumped over the retaining fence. Turkules was bigger than the smallest one and would have looked the middle-sized kid almost in the eye. The racing turkeys were just funny to watch, because they bounce from side to side and run with complete abandon, with eyes only for the bed of the truck. The crowd cheered them around the track and generally had a fine time.
The last item of the day was the pig races. First four little pigs with quilted place mats on their backs with their number on them, so we knew which one to cheer for ran arund the track heading for the prize–an oreo cookie. Then a second set of little pigs ran for the cookie. Then a little tiny girl pig was induced to take a leap into a tank of water and swim to the other side. She was such a little girl and she so did not want to go swimming, and after she’d jumped out the other side the trainer wrapper her tightly in a towel and paraded her around like a winning prizefighter. Finally the pot bellied pigs put their place mats on their backs and ran for the cookie–pig number four, representing my section, won the final race.
We were tired by the time we left, but a good tired, after a day spent in America.