As Life Spins On, the Midway Beckons
"Despite urbanization, suburban sprawl, the collapse of family farms and the rise of corporate agriculture, every year, regular as the seasons, the midways light up, the Tilt-a-Whirls clang to life and the judges study the ample rumps of the local livestock. "
"It would be a long drive. And along the way there would be deep-fried Oreos, grilled bratwurst and church-sponsored plates of peppery fried chicken.
With luck, and a strong stomach, one might even get a look at whatever new country is being born right now in that place — perhaps the only place — where country meets city, suburb and exurb in a shoulder-to-shoulder immersion in half-forgotten American traditions and deep-fried everything.""Huge, maze-like and teeming, they reminded me a bit of Vegas casinos — chaotic looking at first, but gradually revealing the underlying pattern of food stalls over here, midway rides over there, agricultural barns hugging the periphery. The slapdash and transitory nature of it, the sense of a place that was thrown up over a weekend and could disappear overnight, is part of the pleasure. You can get lost in a state fair; it rewards exploration.
Most state fairs have taken place for decades in or near the state’s biggest city or capital. Partly, that’s because such sites were most accessible, the place all the highways went. But it was also by design, to give the country folk an exciting taste of city life as they gathered with their stock and traded tips on the latest farming trends — and to give city folk, many of them only a generation or two off the farm themselves, a whiff of the old life."' “The new thing this year,” confided C. LaVon Shook, a former shuttle driver at the fair who has become its official historian, “is chocolate-covered bacon.” '
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