The Woodstock Fair

Opening day of the Woodstock Fair was today.  This is a fine tradition here in Woodstock and this year the Fair celebrates its 149th year.  From our campus we can see the Ferris Wheel, and when the wind is right, we can hear the main stage music and smell just about every single greasy, luscious, tasty snack they have available: sausages, cinnamon rolls, ice cream, French fries, blooming onions, turkey legs, hot dogs, shaves steaks, etc.  It is a shmorgishborg of sight, sound, and smell.  I love the fair for a number of reasons.  More than just appeasing my senses however, my reasons for loving the fair are directly connected to my hobbies, curiosities, and childish spirit.

My wife and I annually plant a garden, pick berries, take photos, and raise bees.  The fruits of our labor and those of many families in the area can be put on display and judged according to the “Danish” system.  I love this system because in it, everyone wins.  Not just a ribbon either.  You win some cold, hard cash.  Okay, so not a lot of cash, but you win enough to buy next year’s seeds!  The other reward however is that by entering any number of items (photos, jams, breads, knitting, etc.), you get a sense of how your handiwork and effort compares to those around you.  Collecting my ribbons at the end of the Fair is actually pretty cool.

What else is cool?  Giant pumpkins?   I don’t mean large pumpkins.  I am talking about enormous pumpkins.  Like unrealistically ginormous pumpkins that have been fed milk all summer.  Yes, milk.  When I mean big, I mean that the largest pumpkin I’ve seen at the fair topped 800 lbs!  Yup.  That is unreal in my book too!

Lastly, the Fair brings out in me a sense of childish wonder and fun.  It is a place to gawk at people and things, to be a little extreme (ever been on the Zipper?), to spend some money unnecessarily.  There are rides to make you sick, food to test out, musicians and magicians to make you dance and laugh.  Mostly though, the Fair epitomizes and provides a window into small town America, something that I love dearly and which will instantly brings a smile to my face.  Enjoy Labor Day 2009.

Best, John

P.S. I never know whether to brag about this or not, but my wife and I both hold crowns in eating contests: she, for one year, placing first in the corn on the cob contest and me, two years running, in the blueberry pie eating contest.  Makes you wonder doesn’t it….

Learn more about the Woodstock Fair at