Observations at the County “Fare”

Well, the Elecpencil is back after major computer problems. My computer is old and needed some major updating that my son is still working on.

It is the rainy season and in this area that means that it is Trumbull County Fair time. The fair was moved up one week earlier this year in an effort to avoid the annual NE Ohio rain storms that happen the second week of July. You can’t fool Mother Nature that easily as she brought on the monsoons one week earlier and soaked fair goers.

Here is a poem I wrote a few years back about the Trumbull County Fair but it would still be true about any county fair in America.

Observations at the County “Fare”

My kids were pestering me to go to the fair,
and I realized I hadn’t been to one in years.
It’s good family entertainment, a learning experience.
There’s farm animals, a horse race,
pickle and jelly judging,
4-H and farm equipment exhibits.
It will do the kids a world of good
to learn about the agricultural community.

Orange flag wavers make me park,
miles from the entrance gate
in a field of mud.
My first inkling something is amiss
is the parking area near the gate.
It looks more like a motorcycle rally
than a county fair.
A 5-foot tall, 95-pound biker
jumps up and down on his Harley
trying to get it started.
Another leather-clad biker
standing nearby said,
“Pig Pen what’s the matter?
You just rebuilt that hog.”
Nearby a 20-something couple
that looks like magazine models,
fire up a pair of Honda Goldwings,
and smoothly cruise by.
Under his breath Pig Pen’s pal
mutters, “Jap lovers.”
The workingman in me is thinking
those Hondas were made in Ohio.
I’m glad the Japanese are building here
as more and more U.S. companies head overseas.
Pig bounces up and down,
still mumbling, “Rice burners.”
The only thing he’s burning
is energy as his legs,
hop up and down
between his Milwaukee vibrators
Italian made front forks
and Japanese carburetor.

I half empty my wallet
for admission.
I’m told that includes all
rides for free.
My kids stop
at the first booth.
A woman is airbrushing tattoos
on a teenage girl’s shoulder.
The girl turns to show her friends
the huge butterfly.
She giggles and tells them,
“My father would kill me,
if this were real.”
Judging by her blue hair
and pierced lip, eyebrow, nose
and 8 or 9 earrings in each ear,
I suspect her father
is already visually impaired.

As I glance about I notice
the fair has a dress code.
Any color T-shirt you want,
as long as it’s black.
Heavy Metal t-shirts are in abundance,
Mega-Death, Maxi-Death, Ultimate-Death,
Gigantic-Death, Super-Duper-Death, Colossal-Death
and Big-Gulp 72 oz. Death.
Then there’s the screaming eagle,
tattered and torn Harley  t-shirt crowd.
I’m thinking instead of a jelly-judging contest,
there should be a dirtiest, stinkiest t-shirt competition.
Or maybe a 1st place award
for most tats or piercing.
Vendors are selling wrestling t-shirts,
only in black of course.

The horse races of the past have been replaced
with redneck tractor pulls and demo derbies.
Carnies yell from game booths,
“Come on Pops, break a balloon,
one dart for only two bucks.”
What happened to 25 cents a game?
At $2.00, the only thing I’m breaking
is going to be my bank account.

There are few animals at the fair that are real,
most are pink and stuffed.
But there’s lots of animals’ feces.
That smell lingers and mixes,
with the smell of fried foods.
If you’re hungry, there are lots of choices
for you to pick from.
There’s steak, bananas, caramel apples, Klondike’s,
corndogs, sausage, tacos and egg rolls.
They’re all convenient for you to eat,
because they’re all served on a stick.
The guy that owns that stick company
must be a gazillionaire.

Carnies continue to yell,
“Show the kids how it’s done
only 2 bucks,
a mere 2 bucks.”
I notice all these carnies
seem to look alike.
Shaved heads and tattoos
and only one tooth in their head.
There must be a lot of inbreeding
and no lifeguards in the gene pool.

The rides my kids ride cost extra,
so much for the free rides.
A barker screams out to all,
“Come into the freak show.”
Only, you guessed it,
a mere two dollars.
The sign says two-headed dog
as seen in the Inquirer.
I tell the barker,
it’s Enquirer with an E
and not an I,
he stares through me.
A six-legged sheep
is in front of the tent.
I look at the paintings on the canvas tent
of the dog lady
and the alligator man.
I then realize they spawned
the carnie workers.
When I look down
the fair’s midway,
I see people who could be framed
as walking skin art
or the multi-pierced people
who look like walking jewelry boxes.
Then there’s the bikers, heavy-metal heads,
Goths and wrestling fans.
The barker asks me,
“Hey buddy, bringing the family in?”
“No way,” I say,
“The freak show is out here pal!”

As we leave for the night,
Pig Pen is loading his cycle
in the back of a pickup truck.
A handy accessory to have
when you own a Harley.

Now the real contest begins,
finding you car in the dark.
In the background I hear the freak show barker,
“See the four-headed chicken and the bearded lady.”
As I check my wallet, I think,
“See the bankrupt dad.”
I realize that fair is spelled wrong,
it should be “F-A-R-E.”
My kids have seen more than enough for one day.
Maybe next time I’ll just take them to a gambling casino.

Dave Alvin 4th of July

Every Night About This Time

“Everything being a constant carnival, there is no carnival left.”

Victor Hugo

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