Wednesday, August 26, 2009

State Fair Memories

Even as newlyweds, some 35 years ago, Dick and I went to the Kentucky State Fair every year. As with most repeated activities, we developed a list of exhibits and shows we liked to visit. We haven't been to the fair for several years now, but yesterday was Dick's birthday and I was scheduled to work the Raptor Rehab booth, so we put on our walking shoes and headed for the fair first thing in the morning. As we searched for a place to park on the grounds, I recalled my father-in-law's determination to find a space close to the building, no matter what the parking attendants said!
Some things never change at the Fair, thank goodness. Freddie Farm Bureau has greeted visitors to the Kentucky State Fair and Exposition center since the Fair moved there in 1956. Small children are mystified when he speaks to them and asks them questions. Of course, we fair-wise parents know there is a man by a window watching and acting as Freddie's voice. Check out the Fair's blog for a day-by-day trip to the Fair!
As we entered Freedom Hall, the sounds of organ music announced the World's Championship Horse Show. My father-in-law had prime seats in the front row, and this was absolute heaven for a horse-crazy kid from Ohio. Green sawdust, organ music playing in time to the gait of the horses, attendees dressed to the teeth and whooping for their favorites, puffs of talcum powder sprayed by trainers to make the horses prick their ears up as the judge walked by... I admit, I got a little choked up seeing the whole thing again. After years of just watching the show, my daughter and I started showing Saddlebreds ourselves, and it was even more fun watching our friends and our favorites horses in the ring. We were never good enough for this quality show, but it was great fun. Plaques in the hallway honored the World Grand Champions over the years. I still get goosebumps remembering the battles between Imperator and Sky Watch in the 5-Gaited Championship!
Behind the show arena, the equine ambulance waited, just in case a horse was injured.

If you have never been to a Saddlebred Horse show, here's your chance. These are 5-Gaited horses doing the rack, a gait that has to be taught, as opposed to the walk, trot and canter, which they do naturally.
The West wing always houses the livestock, but unfortunately, we hit the turnover day. All the milk cows were gone and the stalls were cleaned and empty, waiting for the beef cattle to arrive. Likewise, we missed the chickens, ducks and rabbits, but a few 4-H'ers were preparing their sheep for judging.
Once a sheep has been clipped and bathed for judging, you certainly don't want them rolling around to get dirty again. Here is the latest in fair fashion for your high-class sheep!
Next, we visited the FFA exhibits, followed by fruits and vegetables. One lucky person set a new state fair record for their pumpkin--929.5 pounds. I can't imagine how they got it out of the field, loaded in a truck and safely placed inside the building without cracking it open!
The fairgrounds cover 520 acres, and has 1,200,000 square feet of air conditioned comfort for exhibitors and visitors. Not everything is inside though, such as this new Jump! dog show. Lou Mack finds most of his dogs at animal shelters, and made a great pitch for adopting dogs from shelters. His dogs really love chasing frizbees and leaping over 20 feet into a pool. They were the smart ones since they got to cool of while the rest of us just sweated!
People expect certain competitions at the Fair, such as quilts, cakes, tropical fish and wood crafts. The quilts were all beautiful. If I worked that hard on a quilt, I would be devastated if it didn't win anything at all. We saw many gorgeous works which were just as good as the ribbon winners, in my opinion. The photographs were the same. That's why I don't even consider entering anything at the fair. I do feel sorry for the judges though, having to choose only a few items from all the beautiful entries. The Kentucky State Fair has a competition that is surely unique though... the Ugly Lamp. A local restaurant sponsors this, inspired by their decor of old ugly tables, chairs, and salt shakers, many of which I remember from my own grandmother's house! I guess Ugly as well as Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

1 comment:

NCmountainwoman said...

I just LOVE fairs, state of county. I feel just like a kid (except I don't enjoy the rides anymore). I can never get enough of the animals and exhibits. Oh...and the fabulous artery-clogging food.