Oh, my goodness. Is there anything that screams America more than fried food on a stick, funnel cakes and curly fries? I think not, and I LOVE it! Luckily, it’s time for the Oregon State Fair, running through September 2nd this year in Salem. But fried food on a stick is not all that the fair’s about.
The state fair is really about competition. People compete to see who has the tastiest jam, the most perfect quilt, the prettiest flowers, the finest wheat, the most eye-catching photo, the fluffiest rabbit, or the best behaved goat. And when you go to the fair, you can explore all the entries. Entries come from people from all walks of life, from young people and people with more experience in life. There are people who are just learning and people who’ve mastered their work. It’s such fun to walk through the different pavilions and exhibit halls and see the creativity and care that’s been taken with each entry. I love seeing the entries by young people especially. Sometimes I’m disheartened thinking that kids aren’t learning to cook or sew or do woodwork or whatever anymore, but many kids are still doing these things, and it’s great to see their talents on display.
The animals are another highlight of the fair. Just looking at that momma pig with her twelve suckling piglets is a sight to behold. They’re so cute, those little piggies. Throughout the day there are showings of different animals that you can watch, such as the goat, sheep and cow judging, or the horse pull, where teams of giant draft horses pull hundreds of pounds in the arena. Take a look at the many varieties of rabbits, from fluffy to sleek, but don’t put your finger in the cages, please! Meet a farmer who raises the beef that you eat, and learn about farming practices and how much time, work, and money it takes to put that steak or burger on your plate. Seeing most of the animals is included in the price of admission, of course, but we also paid 50 cents each to see “the world’s biggest pig.” Holy humongous!
The fair also has entertainment. There are acts like the X-treme Air dogs that jumped 25 feet over a giant swimming pool last year, magicians, storytellers, bands, and more performing each day. This link lists all of this year’s entertainment options. REO Speedwagon and Loverboy are playing this year. I can’t fight this feeling, I LOVE the fair!
If you’re not careful though, going to the fair is not entirely a budget proposition. Those curly fries get expensive! If you want to go to the fair on a budget, buy tickets in advance or check to see if there’s a coupon or a day when you can bring a can of food for a dollar off or something. Eat before you go, and avoid the concession section. Also avoid the games. I honestly cannot go to the fair without a few games of skee ball and whack-a-mole, but if you’re more disciplined than I am, you can save a lot of money by avoiding this area. Of course then you also miss out on the chance to win a giant stuffed panda, and everyone needs one of those! All the exhibits are included in the price of admission, and provide lots of entertainment. You can also go to one of the smaller county fairs which are usually cheaper and although smaller, still have a lot of the same kinds of things on display. This option might even be better for families because they are easier to maneuver in.
I’m determined to enter jam in the state fair one year — it’s on my “60 before 60” list. Have you ever entered a fair? What’s your favorite part of the state fair?
Whether or not you get a chance to go to the fair this year, enjoy your week or your weekend!