Today, August 22, 2013, I did something that I had never done in my close to sixty-two years on this earth - I went to a County Fair! Specifically, the Lorain County Fair in Ohio. I should say that this is old stuff for Marilyn, who, in her youth, spent several summer vacations at a relatives' farm in Seymor, Indiana, and those summer trips included visits to county fairs in the state of Indiana.
Before I get to our adventure today, a little back story.
Not long after I first went on Facebook in 2009, I received a request one day from a woman named Charisse Nikel asking if I was the Bob Sproule who once worked at Metropolitan Life in Cleveland, Ohio in the 1970's. Of course, I was that guy and back then, she was Charisse Hudec, and she was my secretary. I had not seen or talked to Charisse since I left Met in 1978. After renewing acquaintances, I learned that Charisse is the Secretary for the Lorain County Fair Association. In fact she is the only full-time employee of the Fair, and much of the work in getting the Fair up and running every year falls upon her shoulders. Following her on Facebook led us to say every year that we should think about driving over to the Fair, and this year, we finally did.
When we arrived, we headed to the Fair's office on the grounds, and met up with Charisse. As you can guess, she was up to her hips in alligators, so we couldn't spend too much time with her, but it was nice to see her and talk to her after thirty-five years!
As for the Fair itself, it was a revelation to me, and you can see from the picture above that The Grandstander was, literally, a "grandstander" today!
Much of the grounds and exhibit space was devoted to food, and in that sense, it was like almost any several events staged in Pittsburgh every year (Regatta, Three Rivers Arts Festival, and the like) except for much more space devoted to the food vendors.
Being a city slicker by birth and upbringing, I wanted to see some livestock. We saw lots of horses, chickens, sheep, rabbits, and Marilyn hit it off particularly well with a goat:
There were also all of the things you might expect at a county fair - award winning fruits, vegetables, flowers, and home made honey, for example.
To my surprise, there were also a lot of exhibitors and vendors that I did not expect to see. Home improvement providers, home health care vendors, service organizations (Rotary, Lions Club etc), Veterans' groups, political organizations (Lorain County appears to be a hotbed of right wing politics, for what it's worth) and so on.
The big show of the day in the grandstand area was horse/cart pulling competitions. Here are some photos from the competitions:
One big takeaway from this Fair for me was being exposed to a way of life with which I am not familiar. You can see the folks who are exhibiting their animals and their produce, and you hear them talk, and you realize what an enormous job they do for our country. They literally feed us. I never felt that I ever shortchanged any of my employers in the job that I did for them over thirty-five years, but after seeing what I saw today, I also doubt that I ever worked as hard on any given day during that time as these folks work every single day of their lives.
It was a different and a very fun experience today.
Oh, and I did do a little shopping for my next vehicle when time comes to trade in the Toyota Corolla: