I went to the county fair on Saturday. Cool and overcast, the day was perfect for strolling.
Anytime I think of a fair, Charlotte’s Web pops into my mind and I start singing ala Templeton the rat:
A fair is a veritable smorgasbord orgasbord orgasbord…
Melon rinds and bits of hotdogs
Cookie crumbs and rotton cotton candy
Melted ice cream, mustard dripplings
Moldy goodies everywhere
Lots of popcorn, apple cores
Bananna peels and soggy sadwiches
And gobs of gorgeous gook to gobble at the fair
There’s more, but you get the idea, right?
Like Templeton, I’m on a mission when those gates open: to sample whatever I can. Alas, this year, there were no deep-fried oreos or twinkies, so I had to settle for regular fare.
But who doesn’t like pit beef, chocolate-dipped soft ice cream, funnel cake and french fries…?
And yet: I was there for more than the food. I was looking for story ideas…
(What, do you think I can go anywhere and not think about writing?)
I chalk up all the story sleuthing to my journalism training wherein I learned: there could be a story in anything…
I walked by a vendor and remarked to my Husband of Awesome™, “Something smells lemony and sweet and… mmmm.” (Unintentionally, it sounded kinda sexy, but falls flat in the re-telling. Just pretend for a moment, ‘k?)
I’m still trying to find the words to describe that fragrance. They’ll come.
A few steps later, we walked by an obvious patch of vomit. Remember I mentioned it was cloudy? The odor was obnoxious, but not as bad as it could have been on a humid, sunny day.
What if it were lemony, sweet…vomit? There’s a story there, I know.
And take this chicken, for example:
In the fowl barn, lined with cages and cages of gorgeous, plump roosters and hens and ducks, this poor specimen was pulling his own feathers out. I snapped a few photos. The flash startled him up to face me, but he returned to his picking almost immediately. (Was it the two prize hens on either side causing him grief? Maybe he just didn’t like being caged…?)
The rabbit barn sported one empty cage with a sign on it, “Gone home to have babies! Have a happy fair!”
How about this sheep? It’s called a Jacob Sheep (I’d never seen one before. Aren’t all those horns cool?) Both the males and females sprout horns, and some of them will grow six at once.
I also fired my camera into the crowd to see what turns up. I’m not publishing those photos here, but looking at them reveals a host of ideas in a single image: the 4-H girls in their short-shorts and shi–stomping boots, the disheveled carny folk with their bright orange shirts and world-weary expressions, an amazing number of very young children wandering by themselves.
My favorite photo is of a group of teens, perhaps 20, sitting on benches watching the crowd stroll by. Each of them had a notebook and was writing furiously. School’s not in session until next week. What were they writing about?
Even if there’s no complete story in what I witnessed at the fair, there are scads of images I can pepper my stories with, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it.
What can you find at your local coffee shop? Or see on the bus? On campus? At the ballpark?