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NOT One Of My Better Weeks

Not one of my better weeks; suffice it to say that I’m now looking for a new car and not a rehab facility.  That’s the good part.  Time to move on.

The rollercoaster begins again : school is starting!  Whooeee!  Anyone got an office/coffee klatsch/bowling league/civic group/ neighborhood betting pool going on whether the newly -added-on-to Garfield Elementary School will make it to open in time?  Well, it’s GOT  to, of course.  Time and tide and fifth graders wait for no man.  There will be, undoubtedly, opportunities for volunteers to step up to the plate and help move all of the miscellaneous stuff stashed all over the district buildings into its appointed places in the Elementary School.  Stay tuned on that one.

The Portage County Randolph  Fair is on–on the same week as the Lorain County Fair in Wellington, Ohio( often still referred to as the “Wellington Fair”).  They have similar histories, actually.  Once upon a time in each of the counties there was a county fair and the Randolph  Fair / Wellington Fair.  Folks took their prize-winning peach pies or their fattest hogs to whichever festivity was closer or had the best prizes (or the least competition).  Then the real estate prices got to rising to the point that there was NO point in using prime acreage just once a year for the fair and so the “more rural” location became the de facto county fair location and the state of Ohio Agricultural Society declared that it would only support and sanction the awards given at official county fairs.  A couple of fires on the fairgrounds might have contributed to the switch as well.

Some years I can make it to both of them, some years, not.  The Lorain County Fair is my old stomping grounds.  In my misspent youth I garnered a 4-H pin that attested to the fact that I had made the best apron—brown and orange print, it was—in the county .Take THAT, Martha Stewart!  It was stunning, I’m sure.  The dress that I made, not so much. (All of my handmade items—potholder, tea towel, whatever,   tended to have kind of brownish edges  where I had to take out and re-stitch with my grubby little hands; laundering was another skill learned at this time.)  It was an interesting twist of fate that one summer  when I was young and foolish(I’m older now; we won’t go into the rest)and recently moved to Garrettsville, I consented to assist in being the advisor to the girls’ 4-H sewing club in town.  Mrs. Ford was the real advisor, I think that she just wanted help with crowd control.  At least I don’t remember anyone sewing through a body part as I did with the edge of my thumb.

I also have a cherished set of three GENUINE Swiss cowbells that I, or, rather, my livestock won in the cattle competitions over the years.  Trophies be darned, we were showing Brown Swiss cattle and the Brown Swiss Breeders Association wasn’t handing out some chintzy plastic trophies.  Two of the bells came mounted on little wooden  cradles, the other one came on a leather strap that a Swiss cow would wear up on the mountain.(Anybody remember Heidi?  She did goats, I think.  Same principle, you can’t milk the creatures unless you can find them; that’s what the bells were for.  To be honest, cows OR goats will usually head home when it’s milking time.  Like looking for a rest stop on the turnpike, there’s a certain discomfort factor involved, if you get my drift.)  Anyway, they do make a really, really loud noise at a football game…or anywhere else for that matter.

Now-a-days, I notice there are camping set-ups all over the fairgrounds in designated areas for the kids and their parents to stay overnight to keep an eye on their animals.  Back in the day when I was one of the 4-H ‘ers with a project, only the BIG boys were to be found around the barns after, say, ten o’clock and they were usually sleeping with the cows…which is O.K. if the cows are sleeping too but getting stepped on in the middle of the night by a half-ton milk-producer-in-training is no picnic, I’ll tell you.  Cozying up to the livestock doesn’t do much for one’s personal hygiene ratings either but this was trumped by the “cool” factor of getting away with hanging out at the fairgrounds basically unsupervised and the subsequent opportunities for making up big fat lies about whatever it was that the guys did there.  There are, at least, shower facilities available at most fairgrounds which allow overnight stays.  Still, it doesn’t hurt to stay upwind until the campers can be checked out.

Other exciting things can happen at the fair too.  Thursday evening used to be the Junior Fair Parade, where the kids showing livestock of all sorts—calves, cows, goats, sheep, horses, ponies (Not many chickens were in the parade)—would bring their animals to one entrance to the racetrack, walk them past the grandstand(To frenzied applause of relatives and friends) and exit out the other side entrance and, thence, back to the barns.  One fateful year the affair was going on, even as big purple clouds were gathering …and gathering…and piling up…and darkening in the west.  The wind picked up and we were hustling along, hoping to get to the other side before all hell broke loose; a vagrant breeze caused the blue ribbon on my calf’s halter to flutter, the lightening cracked, the thunder rolled and that headstrong bovine decided right then and there that she’d had enough and was heading for home …NOW!  Rain or no rain, she was outta there.  I was hanging on to the halter strap for dear life and running as fast as I could, considering that she had four feet and I had only two ,which were only touching the ground on a part-time basis.  Luckily, my dad had anticipated a fiasco of this nature, was at the exit and managed to get a hand on both of us to slow things down just a tad.  We were soaked, of course, by the time we reached the barn—much faster than we had left it—but at least we got back there; there were others attempting to round up critters for quite a while after that.  Long live the fair!

Apropos of nothing at all except the virtue of proofreading is this notice in a newspaper about a 4-H fundraiser : Small Animal Pancake Breakfast.  So…are these pancakes made in the shapes of bunnies or pygmy goats or chickens…or do the pancakes contain hamster toes or duck eggs or goose grease…or are the foods being made by sheep chefs or a pony maitre patissier or an alpaca cook at the grill?

Make you think…right?  Somebody get Disney on this.

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