For the third straight year the Boys attended the Amador County Fair. We went on Seniors Day, which means we got in for free. This is one of the (very) few advantages of being over 60.
The appeal is pretty straightforward: the fair, in Plymouth, CA, 30 miles northeast of Sacramento, might as well be a small town in the Midwest in the 1950s. Participants are festooned in Wranglers, cowboy boots and hats, large ornate belt buckles, and a paucity of body art. Scrub-faced, durable-looking children abound.
Instead of burying their heads in electronic wizardry, these 4-H and Future Farmers of America kids are raising, grooming, training, and proudly showing their livestock. It is quite impressive – and almost comical – to see a 90 pound child muscling a 1400 pound steer. The intensity of these competitors is palpable: their eyes never leave the judge, a retired veterinarian, except to check on the location and posture of the animal. Many of the cows and sheep are gorgeous beasts, appreciated by all.
The judges are also high points of the fair. They are as intense as the competitors. Their criticism is clear, concise, yet kind. Not one superfluous word is uttered by them. They are not intimidated by the microphone, they just don’t crave it. As in the 1950s, somebody wins best of show, and someone loses. Witnessing a difficult endeavor performed by these children is a delight, and restores at least some faith in the out of doors versatility, goodness and industriousness of our young. As George Sheehan, M.D. said, “We are animals first. Be a good animal.”
The Budweiser tent is strategically located in the village square, as it were. Sponsored by the Lions, we try to support their service club as much as possible. Food is in abundance. One bumper sticker reads, “The West wasn’t won by salad: Beef – it’s what’s for dinner.” Music is everywhere, with pretty good country music bands (what else) rotating throughout the day.
The exhibits, attractions and art show are unremarkable. The antique tractor parade never gets tiring, especially for a gear head. Scheduled later is a destruction derby (another throwback) where drivers in a large pen try to crash into and disable each other’s cars until there is but one left running. Also scheduled is the more contemporary monster truck pull. Actually, they are mini-monster trucks, but very cool, noisy and powerful nonetheless.
The four Fair Princesses riding in a trailer towed by an old tractor, smiling and greeting with the Queen Elizabeth wave, signals it is time for the Fat Boys to return to the big city. Low key, bucolic, wholesome, fun, low energy (for us) and providing many spontaneous smiles, I doubt anyone would dislike a county fair. And, they’re everywhere.