County Fair

DSC09305I haven’t been to the County Fair in many years, but after reading a couple of blogs mentioning fairs, I decided that this year I would go get my fill of what makes agricultural fairs so unique.

Back in the heyday of family farms, fairs were a celebration of the harvest, a place to showcase what the year had produced, to learn new things and socialize. Competitions for the best produce, canned and baked goods, as well as crafts and livestock judging were serious endeavors and carrying home the blue ribbon was a prestige sought by many. A prize-winning cow or draft horse would fetch a higher price, as would its offspring or stud service. Seeds were exchanged or promised, all improving the productivity of community farms.

While the number of family farms has dwindled drastically in the past several decades, there are still those families, who, despite the hardships, hang on to a way of life that dates back generations.

DSC09266I love to visit the exhibition halls filled with handmade quilts, knitted crafts, floral arrangements, displays of shiny apples, baskets of fresh vegetables and rows of canned goods from applesauce, corn, pickles, peaches to tomato sauce.

Youth competitions for pampered heifers, washed and trimly shorn, are sweet to watch as the kids parade their animals before the judges, who consider the animal and its handler. DSC09282Rows of rabbits, exotic chickens, ducks and geese are always fun to visit. The variety is remarkable from small to large, white and buff to black, smooth to frilly.




I particularly enjoy seeing the draft horses drawing weighted sleds. These magnificent Belgians, gentle giants bred for farm work, eagerly lunge as soon as they hear the click of the metal ring attaching them to the sled.

DSC09313It is a short run of 15 feet, the weight increases with each round from 3000 to 6500 pounds. It is amazing to see how easily two horses can pull that weight!


Swimming pigs!

DSC09289 Other animal entertainments were Frisbee-catching border collies and pig races where the young pigs, cute as buttons, run a track and swim a lap pool to win an Oreo cookie prize.

Then there is the Midway and the food vendors. We no longer have young children so the carnival rides no longer appeal, but it’s fun to watch the young families enjoying the rides and games.


Tiny bubbles!






A clown riding a little tractor pulling a bubble machine plied the aisles, collecting a following of young, delighted children like the Pied Piper.

Sizing up the competition!

Sizing up the competition!


Even the kids have a pedal-tractor draw pulling bricks in sleds.


Really? At the Fair? 😉


Despite the tempting smell of fried food, we manage to avoid the fried dough and onion rings (okay, I did give in and buy French fries doused with vinegar) DSC09296and ate lunch at the church-sponsored booth. Even though the tuna sandwich on whole wheat seemed a healthy choice, I succumbed to the fresh peach shortcake for dessert!



It turned out to be even more fun than I remembered and we ended up staying later than I thought we would.

And who knows, maybe next year I might enter some of my flower arrangements and dilled-bean pickles to see if I can’t bring home a blue ribbon prize!

About Eliza Waters

Gardener, writer, photographer, naturalist
This entry was posted in Country Living, My Photos and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

43 Responses to County Fair

  1. Murtagh's Meadow says:

    Eliza – how great to see how you do fairs on your side of the Atlantic. And yes you would definitely win first prize in the flower arranging tent from what I have seen of your “Vase on Mondays”:)

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Is it very different over there? I expect your fairs would have the collies chasing real sheep and not frisbees! 😉 Thanks for the vote of confidence re: my arrangements!

      • Murtagh's Meadow says:

        I think in terms of scale yours are much bigger -but many of the same elements! And yes no frisbee chasing collies, but imagine that was fun to watch!

  2. Kina says:

    Loved reading it! Brought back memories of the fair in Greenfield. I always wanted cotton candy, so magically the way it disappeared in your mouth!

  3. ladygrace33 says:

    Love your story in words and photos 🙂

  4. You should enter your lovely arrangements Eliza. Thanks for taking us through the fair. 🙂

  5. Looks like you had a great time! And yummy! Peach shortcake – that sounds wonderful. I loved the description and pic of the pig races. So cute! Blessings, Sarah

  6. Good clean family fun and a reminder of simpler times. 🙂

  7. arlingwoman says:

    So good to see the fairs, especially those horses. They are splendid. Honestly, you should enter your arrangements. They are fabulous.

  8. Eliza Waters says:

    Thank you, Lisa. I helped mount a display a year or two when I was in the garden club back in the 90s, but never for myself. It would be fun to enter a category or two next year. We’ll see!

  9. Beautiful, beautiful pictures!I feel like I was there with you. 🙂

  10. Trini Lind says:

    Oh, I would have loved to go to a Country Fair!! 😊💖. I have never been! Did they sell sweets too? 😊 🍧🍧😊

  11. Jim in IA says:

    County fairs are great. They are quite popular around Iowa. We have 99 counties.

    People worldwide gather at events like the fairs. They go by different names. But the sentiments are the same as you identified in the second paragraph. People are alike wherever you go.

    Thanks for the pictures and the descriptions. I felt like I was there.

  12. Jim in IA says:

    My wife is a prolific quilter. I think she should enter some of her works in the county or state fair. She is reluctant. Her specialty is the medallion quilt.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      I bet your fairs are BIG in Iowa! They are a lot of fun, aren’t they?
      Prolific hardly describes your wife’s creativity! Her quilts are stunning and DEFINITELY she should enter them in the fairs as they would bring in prizes galore! 🙂

  13. Maria F. says:

    What a day full of fun Eliza, I miss those. You live in a wonderful state!

  14. Sue Vincent says:

    What a lovely day! I miss seeing the horses at work. The big Shires that used to deliver beer in my home city were always a joy to watch.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      I have a soft spot for work horses – they are amazing in what they can do. Shires are a beautiful breed. Do many farms in the UK still use them? They are undergoing a bit of a renaissance here in the sustainable farm industry.

  15. dorannrule says:

    Your story in pictures and words makes me want to go to our next county fair here in Virginia! It’s all good family fun and the gooey food is sooooo delicious! 🙂

  16. Debra says:

    What a wonderful celebration! I haven’t been to a fair in ages but these photos (and they are superb as always) remind me of the joy in seeing what people have made with their own hands and labour. Thank you.

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Thanks, Debra. The crafts, some of them using old techniques, are varied and some is museum quality. It gives one an idea of the many talents that are all but hidden in one’s community.

  17. Robin says:

    How fun! I haven’t been to a county fair since we moved from Ohio (three summers ago). I bet your flower arrangements would win blue ribbons. 🙂

  18. Eliza Waters says:

    Thanks for the vote of confidence, Robin! Ohio’s fairs must be awesome due to the large Amish population. I bet the quilts and canned goods are top-notch.

  19. Heather says:

    Well, the peach shortcake sounds divine. I just bought peaches at a roadside stand to make a cobbler. I’d have had a tough time not getting a funnel cake. They are my once a year treat, and I haven’t had one in 2015!
    Did the fair smell like the fair? I always loved the smell of the cow and horse barns 🙂

    • Eliza Waters says:

      Oh, yes, it did smell like the fair between the fried food and the barns! Funny thing is I didn’t notice the sign for funnel cakes until I was home processing the photos – 😀 I guess that is just as well… I was trying really hard not to eat everything in sight! 😉

      On Tue, Sep 15, 2015 at 10:29 PM, Eliza Waters wrote:


  20. W.H. SIM says:

    gotta love those draft horses! 😀

  21. Robbie says:

    “I succumbed to the fresh peach shortcake for dessert” love it Eliza:-) we all have to enjoy life!
    Great post!

Comments are closed.