You could say that I grew up in a rural community - Los Angeles. For the first ten years of my life - until 1963 - Los Angeles was the biggest agricultural producing county in the United States. The first house I remember living in was in Encino, in the San Fernando Valley. There was no freeway to get to it. Ventura Boulevard, the main drag, turned into a dirt road not too much west of where you turned off onto our street. When I'd scramble up onto the wall at the border of our backyard, all I could see was fruit orchards. Farms were all around us. (There was a two acre garlic farm in one of the most high-value real estate parts of the Valley until just recently. Maybe it's even still there, I'm not sure.)
Today, L.A. is still one of, if not the biggest producers of nursery plants in the country. Most of those farms are under miles and miles of powerlines that stretch across the city.
So, like any other country boy, I've always loved the County Fair.
These people were speaking Cantonese, which made me feel back at home in Hong Kong, but I don't think the goats understood.
A child about to be eaten by sheep. Farm animals can be dangerous. As Ashley Ream, author, friend and standing county fair date, put it (and she ought to know, coming, as she does, from rural Missouri): "An undeniable feeding frenzy. We’re lucky to be alive."
For "security" reasons, the cow milking barn was off-limits to the public. I, for one, would hate to have the terrorists poisoning our milk supply.
Of course, some farm animals are just plain tasty. I'm not sure why these pigs are in such a hurry to "bring home the bacon," but I'm glad they are. There was a chocolate covered bacon vendor just outside the pig racing arena. And at the end of the race, all the spectators got a coupon for a free pound of bacon. How could you not love the county fair?
Food, glorious food. FRIED food, lots of it. Just looking at this picture is enough to make your arteries harden.
Not everything was fried.
But you could get almost anything dipped in chocolate.
I couldn't even bring myself to find out what, exactly, is "meat lovers ice cream."
I am very fond of what I refer to as the "slice it / dice it booths." Here, a very persuasive sales guy demonstrates his miracle, master sushi maker.
There are many useful, heavily discounted, items to buy at the Fair. The electronic cigarette complete kit - with recharger for home and auto, carrying case and other stuff - will set you back $129 in stores, but only $79.95 at the Fair.
And if you love baseball, and you smoke too many real cigarettes, this could be just what you're looking for. (Ashley was disappointed to see that they weren't offering any Kansas City Royals caskets - she's a fan.)
Unfortunately the Fair seldom has any biggest or smallest or ugliest or much of anything other ...est anymore. I fondly recall, from the past, The Giant Jungle Rats of Vietnam, Zambora the Apewoman, and other such luminaries. Last year there was at least a gigantic cow - a steer (eunuch) really. All I could find this year were snakes. I didn't even bother going inside. I am almost certain I've seen bigger.
But you can still win oversized plushies that assault baby strollers.
And of course there is the Midway, colorful as always, reeking of hot dogs, cotton candy and teenage adrenalin spilling off thrill rides.
By the way, I am guest blogging also today at the home of Sha'el, Princess of Pixies