Country Fairs


I may be the most urban person you will ever meet. I’d be more than happy to spend the rest of my life in big cities. Ideally this would be a big city like Vancouver where I could see both mountains and the ocean without ever leaving my high rise condo.

So when someone says to me — wouldn’t it be fun to visit a country fair? — my response is invariably: do they have a beer garden? Because if you’re going to drag me into the wilderness, there has to be alcohol.

I’m not a complete curmudgeon about these things. Country fairs in wine country have their compensations and, sometimes, you will see surprising things — like the exhibition of raptors at a fair I saw a few months ago. They are magnificent birds — these ones were all from a recovery centre where injured birds of prey are healed.

There was also a display of working steam engines — well, they were running, though I don’t think they were doing any real work. Very nice if you like the smell of diesel and the clank of metal on metal.

Then there were the crafts. Things made from knotted yarn or dresses constructed from old flour sacks (I kid you not) or many and various things shaped from clay or carved from wood — most of which I had no idea the use of. Many I suppose were meant to be decorative — which they might be if I were a hobbit with a taste for kitsch.

Far be it for me to criticise other people’s taste but I’ll do it anyway.

Not everything though is restricted to ‘happy cottage’ decor. There were a lot of photographers with large scale prints of their work. But I’m almost sure they were all taking pictures at the same lakeshore or of the same flock of birds. But they aren’t dumb — the one booth with really interesting shots seemed mostly empty. People who go to country fairs do have a pretty good idea of who their market is.

Despite this I did spot a few things I liked — generally things made from leather that wouldn’t look out of place in Paris or New York.

DSC00143Then I found the wooden coasters with all the elements of the periodic table. These not only appealed to me because of my ancient degree in Chemistry but because of the words you could spell with them.

As you can see, it is not a bad thing to take some of the things I say with a grain of salt.

But that’s ten minutes

(10 minutes is going to Cuba today — I’ll keep writing these every day but I don’t know how good the Internet connection will be so I may be away for a day or two.)


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