The middle week of August, the dog days of August, are traditionally the week in which the Northwest Washington Fair is held here in Lynden, our home town. It is always a big event, but this year was the 100th anniversary of the fair, so there was a bit more excitement than usual. I was there Monday morning and evening, August 16th and again on Tuesday afternoon, August 17th to help scoop ice cream as a fundraiser for the little Christian school to which we send our children.
The fair is always a little bit of everything and this year was no exception. Since we live in an agricultural community, the animals are still a very large part of the fair. They are shown for judging, both pets and farm animals, by everyone from small children to adults, by the 4-H, FFA and other agricultural clubs, by the farmers, and by those who raise animals and birds as a hobby. We saw alpacas, cats, chickens, chincillas, cows, dogs, draft horses, goats, llamas, parrots, pigs, ponies, rabbits, riding horses, and sheep. Even Clifford and Miss Piggy were there.
Who's having a bad hair day?
the business end
One would have to be at the fair every day and all week to see all the judging. We happened to see some of the horses being judged. If I remember correctly, it was called "halter judging," in the morning the judging of young girls in riding costumes and their horses, and in the evening the judging of the draft horses. The draft horses are a very popular part of our fair, since there are sixteen six-horse hitches in our county.
The commercial exhibits are also a big part of the fair. There were booths selling everything from chiropractic treatments to tacky decorations. And of, course, the implement dealers were there in force, selling tractors both large and small and every other sort of machinery.
can't imagine they were very busy in 90 degree heat
Along with all the vendors we saw displays of antique vehicles, farm equipment and steam engines. These are some of my favorites, though it seemed they were getting very little attention. Too many other things to do, I guess. Even the army and the border patrol were there.
mother and daughter
And not only are animals brought for judging, but every other kind of craft, hobby, horticultural and agricultural product imaginable. There were hand-made quilts (a very big thing at this fair), home-canned fruit and vegetables, exhibits of local produce, cut flowers, especially dahlias which are in bloom now, Lego toys, art, photographs, collectibles, baked goods and bees.
the black quilt was the grand prize winner
a hand-made kayak
the first picture was in the 14-18 year old amateur class
For entertainment, there are all the carnival rides and games as well as music, both amateur and professional and other stage events. Because this was the 100th anniversary of the fair, a friend of ours, who runs an internet chess business was invited to set up a display and game tables in an air-conditioned building. His brother, a national master was at the fair also to play group and blindfold chess, forty plays at one time in regular games and 10 players at a time blindfolded. There are even special booths for kids. My favorite was the agricultural booth which had a simulated cow which the kids could try to milk.
One of the big annual events at the fair is the demolition derby, which includes various events such as figure-eight racing (should be called figure-eight wrecking), and the smashing of various vehicles in unique ways. For those who are unacquainted with such delights, however, the main event is an American tradition in which cars are specially modified for a derby which involves their attempting to wreck each other, the last vehicle moving being the winner. All-in-all, not a very eco-friendly past-time and one at which I would imagine the carbon footprint is bigger than Paul Bunyan's. I didn't attend this year, but Edward did and the pictures of the actual derby were taken by him.
Then, of course, there is the food! Every kind of fried and greasy delight imaginable is available for consumption, and because our town has a Dutch background, there are even traditional Dutch treats like Poffertjes available. And, because the fair week is usually hot and sunny, cold drinks and ice cream are especially popular. There is always a line at the ice cream booth run by the Whatcom County Dairy Women.
a 1lb turkey leg from Piggly's - almost as big as his head
A little bit of everything and the people are as much fun to watch as the exhibits and the entertainment. Young and old, everybody comes and has a good time at the fair, whether to exhibit, to sit around and talk, to show off, or to have fun.
Nighttime is the best time of all, if you're not too tired by then. When evening comes the lights go on and the crowds gather. Then the rides and games that were quiet during the day are going non-stop. Then the smells and noise are almost too much.