It’s broilingly hot outside, summer produce is rolling in, and the scent of fried food is in the air. It must be time for the state fair!
We love the state fair. This year, it runs from August 3 to August 19, and at some point, every one of our crew will head over to the fairgrounds.
Why do we love it so? The state fair puts us back in touch with our rural roots. Sure, the midway can be fun, and no one is complaining about how many types of food we can buy deep fried and on a stick. But the thing that sends us back to the fair each year is the feeling of returning to the farm.
The state fair falls right around the time of the first harvest, when vegetable production is at its peak and the first of the grain is coming in. Even in this year of drought-reduced yields, we still feel that sense of gathering in.
Wandering through the horticulture building comparing tomatoes reminds us that our food comes from somewhere. Sampling honey and admiring canned jars of jam gives us a vicarious sense of stocking up for the winter. Visiting the animal barns helps us remember that we are responsible both to our animal companions and to the earth.
Most of all, the state fair reminds us that the season of abundance is followed by a cold, dark winter, so you might as well enjoy it while you can—a sentiment that any gardener can get behind.
When you get down to it, maybe that’s why we love the fair so much. It’s not really about touring the animal barns (although we do find the alpacas fascinating). Or the record-breaking pumpkin (last year’s was 1160 pounds!). Or even this year’s signature food (we kid you not: “spaghetti” ice cream, with gelato noodles, strawberry sauce, shredded white chocolate cheese, and chocolate meatballs). The state fair celebrates a moment in the agricultural year, reminding us that we are part of the natural cycle.
Pass the fried dough.