Snapshots Of An American Tradition: The “County Fair”

A Children's Utopia:  The County Fair Rides & Amusements
A Children’s Utopia: The County Fair Rides & Amusements

An American Summertime is perhaps not complete without the arrival of the Summer county fair. With the end of Summer approaching and the days shortening, the send off to Summer meets perfection with the arrival of the county fair

Amidst the fresh country air, camera in hand, the carnival of sorts on a fairground was within the focus of my lens. Worth the price of admission, for certain. The transformation of a fairground to a magical utopia for children and adults. Among several thousand fair goers in Northwestern Illinois, I was in the mix of gazing eyes taking in the excitement that a fair offers. Wafting, delightful smells of funnel cakes, corn dogs & French fries filled the air. Of course, the towering, airy cotton candy lures the eyes of children (and the adults that can accept the sticky goodness that it temporarily brings). An intense sugar rush. Let’s not forget the fresh-squeezed county fair lemonade. For certain, the county fair is a visual and eating delight, American style.

Dazzling Lights Of Summertime Bliss:  The County Fair
Dazzling Lights Of Summertime Bliss: The County Fair

The “fair” is an ancient tradition. Originally a gathering of people to display or trade produce or other goods paired with the parade or display of animals has long become associated with county fairs. On American soil, the first county fair was held in 1765 in York, Pennsylvania. Who knew? Throughout the world, fairs are known by many names, such as “Carnival”, “Fun Fair”, “Fete”, “Agricultural Show”, “County Fair”, “Exhibition”,”Festival” or “State Fair”. A pastime of delights and amusement, for certain.

Since childhood, the lights and candy-colored and neon blazing clusters of rides and “magical box cars” filled with offerings of delight, have beckoned me. The vendors from within these colorful trailers beckon like auctioneers to try their sins of delight. And of the fair rides that beckon? As an adult, one can certainly appreciate the memories and sheer delight as a child to board a ride of thrills. Speed and movement among the dazzling fairgrounds. The thrill of the fair. Daring rides for youth and sweet rides, such as tea cups twirling with wide-eyed children tucked safely within. And of those clamoring for a ride in the sky from the perch of a ferris wheel, high above the mass of people and lights below? A seasonal delight for all. Lights and excitement. Food and treats of enormous proportions of delight. Who could not find delight in the frenzy of movement with rides that offer thrills and seemingly endless gastronomical pleasures of a fair? Delightful Summertime bliss…

Visual Delights:   The American County Fairgound
Visual Delights: The American County Fairgound
Lights & Thrills:  The County Fair
Lights & Thrills: The County Fair

Of course, there are the games to play with which to win a token memory. Chance, luck and skill for a temporary satisfaction of merit. But alas, it is the lights of the rides and the culinary vendors that draws my camera. A magnetism, perhaps, is what lures me to the fair’s midway and the rides that dot its course. Lights, camera and action. A magical world on a Summer day. Perhaps, with a fair, as with my youth, we never tire of its energy. Tradition, American style, indeed…

Fair Delights:  The Array Of "Treats"
Fair Delights: The Array Of “Treats”
Evening Splendor:  The County Fair
Evening Splendor: The County Fair

Of course, beyond what my lens focussed upon, there is the blue-ribbon judging that the livestock quarters hold and the booths of exhibits of talent that reach throughout the county’s borders. Agriculture and entertainment, American Style, under the noon-day sun into the star filled sky. And let’s not forget the tractor pull. Alas, I missed it. Perhaps I was consumed by my annual anticipated event at the fair: the delightful sugar splurge of a funnel cake…

Consider a day at your local fair. Appreciating the energy, excitement and life that it offers is a worthwhile experience as an ending celebration to Summer. The joy and excitement on children’s faces and on the faces of couples that walk hand in hand… A visual snapshot into life, itself. And for me? It’s the structures my camera finds its focus upon. For I have discovered that behind my lens, I look up first. It is the details that I gravitate towards. However you appreciate the fair, enjoy a moment of delight in its surrounds. An American tradition, indeed…



2 thoughts on “Snapshots Of An American Tradition: The “County Fair”

    1. Thank you, Meg! Delighted you enjoyed the “Snapshots”. Memories can certainly flood back to the past to the time in our lives when we were the wide-eyed child soaking in the “Fair”….
      Thanks for sharing!

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