Thursday, September 08, 2005

A Day At The Maryland State Fair

Learning that there's nothing going on in DC over Labor Day weekend, I looked to the "Free State" for any sort of activity. I could have played ultimate, but I wasn't in the mood to break a sweat (which just means I felt lazy). I looked online and found out the Maryland State Fair was happening in Timonium. I've wanted to do the state fair thing for a few years and this looked like a perfect opportunity. After making a traffic-free drive north and grabbing a bite to eat at a nearby supermarket, it was time to pay our $6 to see animals, ride all-too-rickety rides, and eat fried twinkies. All in a day's work.

Wow were there a lot of farm animals at the fair. We saw horses, llamas, goats, donkeys, roosters, pigs, cows, bulls, sheep, and two dogs. Of course, having all of those animals means a whole lot of, um, manure if you will. There was this one building that was used to show the animals for prizes and some auctions and I swear, you could definitely tell which ones were nervous right before they were in the spotlight. It was a show before they were even shown. It must be nice being able to do your "business" anywhere you want and have someone else clean it up. Nevertheless, it was incredible how large some of these animals really are. From the bulls and cows, to the enormous Budweiser clydesdales (I wonder if the beer makes them taller), some of these animals really were strong and powerful beasts and something to see - which I did.

We had a chance to milk a cow, but I was just fine drinking my milk and not seeing the "action" needed to get the milk out of the cow and into my fine Lactaid milk carton. I heard some younger calves mooing a whole lot, but other than that, they were pretty boring. Then again, I'm not sure what I expected them to do at the fair than moo, eat, and get milked.

The goats weren't too interesting except for this one that kept eating at its caretaker's shirt and wrist, as a girl looks on as puzzled as me.

Since Maryland really is a farming and agricultural state, there were lots of farming equipment for show and sale, and just to prove I'm not making that up, here's a picture.

Once you get past the farming equipment, animals, and all of their smells, I got to the part of the fair that I only see in my local New Jersey carnivals - all of the funnel cakes, sausages, unsafe looking rides, and midway games designed to make you a big loser. A "southern" state fair really is no different than a tri-state area carnival/fair except for the inclusion of animals and farming equipment. After that, you can find the same sketchy ride operators, with rides you know haven't been inspected in a few years ever since "the incident", as well as food offerings like funnel cakes, fried twinkies, and sausages on some makeshift frier/griller that probably isn't the most sanitary. Well, despite all of this, carnivals and fairs are lots of fun and haven't caused me any indigestion, "but you don't have to take my word for it." (thanks Lavar Burton!)

Back when I was a young lad in NJ, the "scariest" rides at my town's small carnival were the gravitron (makes you feel lots of g-force by spinning fast) and the salt and pepper shakers (a long arm swung your cage in a big loop). Sure it was a small event, but compared to Maryland, those rides were for wimps. The Maryland state fair not only had those rides, but it also had a hangliding ride that would make anyone vomit, another ride that had you in a rollercoaster seat that only went in a loop - both forward and backward about 5 times, and a few rides that went up and down while spinning. I only went on the ferris wheel since I didn't want to lose my lunch and wanted a clean shirt for the ride home. It gave a great view of the park and was well worth the 5 tickets. By the way, if you're over 5' tall, don't ride the "haunted house" ride. While it was a scary ride for me since I was worried about my safety and lack of legroom, it was just a ride in the dark, and if ya think about it , a ride can't be that scary if it fits in a small tractor trailer.

Besides rides, I played and lost one midway game where you had to shoot some water into a hole and raise your balloon in a race. I also placed my first horse racing bet...$2 on indigo dream to win. Unfortunately, the horse placed, and of course if I bet that I would have walked away with $84 from a $2 bet. I hit every sample food stand from potato chips, to fruit soda, to grilled steak (multiple times in fact) (by the way, it was a little odd eating steak with live cows a few yards away, but I got over that worry really fast), to spring water, to bread, and even salad dressings. At one point I needed something to cool me down and after much searching, I finally found a snoball stand (how could you have a Maryland state fair without a snoball stand?) and asked for my dad's favorite, root beer with extra flavor, but the guy didn't have any so I walked away disgusted. I eventually drowned that disappointment by trying a fried twinkie that was surprisingly delicious. Trust me, I was apprehensive as well, but the frying vaporized the cream inside and made for a nice treat with powdered sugar and strawberry sauce. However, you're on your own if you try the fried oreos, and yes, those are my pearly whites below.

1 comment:

Rock 'n' Oaks Ranch said...

So sorry you haven't had a comment on this yet. I've been going to the fair for 35 years with animals--some of those years were with my own children and now thankfully, my 19 year-old is too old to raise another steer. She made enough money, since she was 5, to pay for her college education and then some. She had buckles and ribbons covering my hallway to the top of the 10 foot ceilings. The weren't the prize, the prize was she has developed poise that can withstand so much pressure, that she gets "As" in all her college classes and now MCs at the fair, with the fair board many events.

We never eat at the fair-actually, the food smells worse than the livestock barn.

I am delighted not to attend the fair this year and just be able to enjoy the farm animals, including the horses at home.

By the way 4-H and FFA are not just livestock. 4-H tries to cover a huge variety of interests. FFA is business and agriculture. Both are absolutely excellent programs.

Just wanted you to know the hicks are not all what they seem and the county fair is just a tiny slice of rural farm life. Susan