December 31, 2012

Fair Day (guest post by Black Bear) *


I look forward to the Indiana State Fair pretty much all year long.  By late August, when the barns close up and the food stands roll out to their next venue and the roller derby takes over the expo hall for the season, I’m already looking ahead to the next year’s fair.  I’ve been going since I was a little kid; and like most little kids, for me back then the fair was all about this.

Or this.

Or possibly this.


As I got older, I realized that there was more to the fair than eating dangerously colored foods, going on rides, and possibly throwing up.  My parents are both artists, and so we spent a lot of quality time in the Home and Family Arts building, which runs the gamut from paintings and sculpture to kitchen creations that back in the good old days would succumb to the ravages of mold before the first week of the fair was out.  The 100+ year old building lacked air conditioning until the early 2000’s, and by the end of week two each year, culinary arts was a chamber of furry horror that had to be seen to be believed.  My mother and I found this hilarious, and were devastated when funds were finally raised to upgrade the climate control in the HFA building.  Now we’re forced to make do with unintentionally amusing petit fours and the occasional ill-advised cake.

One of the big things that I’ve come to really look forward to in my adulthood is the heavy horse championship events. I was never much of a horse kid; I liked horses just fine, rode them at summer camp now and then, but my interests at the fair always ran to the BIG horses, the Clydesdales and Percherons who terrified and awed me with their sheer size and power.  I loved walking through the barns on Percheron days… but for some reason, it was years before I happened to stumble into the Coliseum during the Clydesdale hitch competitions.  Now I can’t imagine visiting the fair without at least an hour or two of big horses and bright carts; I actually plan my visits (yes, visits plural) around their schedule.

It’s a beautifully consistent experience year to year, right down to the tiny little old lady who plays the electric organ (she has a CD out–one of these days I’m going to buy it.)

I’m continually amazed at what goes into putting together these teams–not just the horses, but the tack, the hardware, the carts, the drivers.  I find the whole thing unbelievably beautiful, which is probably why I’m so content to spend an hour of my precious fair time allotment sitting on an uncomfortable folding seat, drinking a chocolate milkshake from the dairy tent and watching the horses go by.  So here, for those of you who were unable to attend this year’s fair, I offer you the experience via Youtube.

Percheron 4-Horse Hitch

Clydesdale Unicorn Hitch




* Note first that for some reason WordPress won’t let you change font colour in a heading or that asterisk would be pink, and second, that poor Black Bear wrote this up soon after the event, but it was MY ONLY GUEST POST and I couldn’t, um, bear to put it up and lose it.  B_twin has now supplied the replacement ONLY GUEST POST so I can hang this one. 


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