The Berkeley County Youth Fair

So yesterday I went to the Berkeley County Youth Fair which was something I usually would not do.  I mean, it’s been a long time since I’ve been to a fair.  In fact, I might never have been to a county fair and definitely not a youth fair.  I have been to the Maryland State Fair but that was over a decade ago.  I got off work yesterday in the afternoon and, after a pontoon boat joyride with my brother and his friends, we planned our trip to the Berkeley County Youth Fair.

Of course, I have not yet mentioned the motivating factor in getting me to the fair.  You see, my mother and her new husband went to Hawaii with my new step-nephew and step-niece.  The trip was scheduled somewhat close to the last minute since they suddenly got a deal impossible to pass up.  They had wanted to attend the fair because the daughter of some friends of theirs was set to auction off a hog she raised.  When they left for Hawaii, they charged my brother with a mission. Go to the fair and bid on the little girl’s hog.

I drove separately to the fair and jumped into line, it was about 5:30 in the evening and I was definitely in good spirits.  I had no idea how the night would go but hanging out with my brother Alex tends to bring out the optimist in me.  I breezed through the gate and almost immediately I saw a raffle being held by the local Ford dealership.  I decided to fill it out and boy am I glad I did.  The guy running it was charming and had a foreign accent that I couldn’t place.  Apparently he was a fan of the Hunger Games films because he pointed out my hand stamp looked like the mockingjay symbol.  As I turned to go, he decided he would tell me a dirty joke.  Skip it if you’re easily offended.

The guy: “Do you have any tattoos?”

Me: “Not yet, no.”

The guy: “I have a suggestion for you.  It’s a dirty joke. Do you mind?”

Me: (Pleased that he asked permission) “No. Go ahead.”

The guy: “A guy got a tattoo of the words ‘I Love You’ on his dick.  He showed it to his wife and she said ‘There you go, putting words in my mouth again.'”

I smirked and thanked him and wished him a good night.  On reflection I wonder what gave this guy the idea that he could tell this joke in a customer service position.  I appreciate a good joke, dirty or not, but I hope the guy didn’t get himself in trouble with somebody more uptight.

My brother, Kira and Scott were already in the indoor arena where the auctions and other events took place.  Alex had already registered for the auction but had come up with a plan in the ten minutes or so while they waited for me to arrive.  We immediately got me registered as well and we decided that if bidding was slow, we would bid against each other to raise the price.  You see, part of our directive was to see that the price got up to 3 dollars a pound.  Our target hog was 280 pounds so you can do the math on how much we were ready to plunk down to give this girl a respectable showing and donate to local youth organizations.

After looking at the program, we figured out that the hogs were being auctioned last.  This would be after the goats, sheep and steers.  This meant we probably had a lot of time to kill.  It was time for our first go at fair food.  Now, I haven’t been to a fair in a while but I’m familiar with fair food.  For our first foray, I opted for a chili cheese dog.  It immediately fell apart but I didn’t care because it tasted really good.

We wandered back into the pens to check out all of the animals.  We saw goats, sheep, chickens and rabbits.  Every single animal was some kid’s project and earlier in the week they had shown them off and gotten their ribbons.  Now it was time to auction them off.  I was impressed with how good the kids did on raising their animals.  Each pen was decorated with a posterboard sign which displayed the animal’s name.  Considering most of them were about to get slaughtered, I figured this must be a bittersweet day for the kids.  After a quick tete a tete with the owners of the hog we found out that it would be at least 9 pm when the hogs would be auctioned.  Our target was one of the last in the schedule as well.

We realized that we  had a lot of time to kill.  That was ok because we had realized like any good adventure, there was a sidequest and plenty of mini-games.  We decided to check on the sidequest first.  The fair had brought in a company to present monster trucks.  Here was something I had never seen before and I was interested.  However, we discovered that we would have to wait for this too.

We hit the carnival section of the fair and stalked around for a bit to see what was what.  We were all pretty hip to the subtle trickery of carnival games so we started to decide not what we could win but what would be most fun to play.  First, we climbed aboard the ferris wheel which lucky enough fit four people to a car.   I love hanging out with my brother and his friends, especially his fellow Pointless Theater members.  I don’t know all of their inside jokes but they have great senses of humor and are incredibly nice.  We hit the carnival and tried out a few games and Kira ended up winning a tiny stuffed banana with a face.

With that done it was time for ice cream.  I got a giant cup of chocolate soft serve ice cream and noted that there was a definite lack of weird fair foods.  I have heard over and over about deep-fried this and deep-fried that but all they had was deep-fried pub pickles which didn’t seem worth it.  Ah well, my arteries will probably be thankful for their absence.

Ice cream in hand, it was time for monster trucks.  We lucked out with great seats seconds before the show started and I knew what to generally expect.  What I didn’t expect was our national anthem to start playing.  I know that it’s often sung or played before sporting events but I did not think this qualified.  However, when we stepped into that fair, we were definitely in ‘Murrica territory.  I was taught well, I took off my hat and covered my heart.  Then it was time for things to get smashed.   In that regard, we were not disappointed.

I had seen footage of monster trucks on tv and in movies before but I was not prepared for the spectacle being mere yards away.  There was loud engine noises, cars being crushed and ATV races.  We cheered and had fun along with everybody else.  I did not expect to love this event as much as I did.  The craziest part is that a company built a miniature monster truck that was still about ten to twelve feet tall.  We wondered what was up with that.  During the show they had seven year olds drive this thing around the track.  It looked potentially very dangerous but both kids handled it well.  One of them even shot the crowd metal horns as he passed by.

We hit the exhibit hall and saw the projects done by kids presumably instead of raising an animal.  Some of them were impressive and I was glad to see not only a firm grasp on science but a lot of creative, art projects too.  Some of the projects were super lazy though but I guess you have to expect that.  We had a lot of fun poking around though.

We checked in and there was still plenty of time until the hog auction.  We wandered through the pens again and this time we got to see the steers as they came back from being auctioned off.  This is where we saw a young girl sobbing after coming back with her steer.  This was the bitter part of the night.  These kids had grown attached and now they had to say goodbye to Bessie who was now on her way to the slaughterhouse.  These were not animals for milking.  I felt bad for the kids but in order to enjoy the protein we know and love, we have to kill animals.

We headed into the stands at the auction and took our seats.  We had plenty of hogs to go so we sat and let Scott educate us on how livestock auctions go.  Scott used to show goats in similar fairs and knew a lot about the ins and outs of the process.  We were also able to get a feel for the room with each hog that was auctioned off.  Boys and girls herded stubborn pigs into the ring and had them move around as people bid on them.  I quickly realized that these pigs vastly outweighed the kids who raised them.  The smarter, more experienced kids had figured out how to use a cane to make the pig move without hurting them.  Strategic taps made the pig want to keep moving.  The unfortunate kids were literally pushed around by their pigs or stood by helpless as their pig did whatever it wanted.

I realized that, since we had a 3 dollar upper limit, we were likely to be outbid.  As the auction continued people did slowly stream out of the place so we thought that maybe our competition would slink out too.  Finally the moment of truth came.  I let Alex do the bidding as he seemed ready and raring to go.  He tensed as they announced the little girl and her pig.  Then as soon as the bidding started the price jumped to 4 dollars.  I started to laugh uncontrollably.  We had been there for close to 6 hours and we didn’t even get to bid.  The bidding ended at 4.75 which was definitely respectable.  We congratulated the girl’s mother and left the fair in good spirits.

A great time was had by all.  Sure we didn’t accomplish our goals but there was plenty of people watching and other fun to be had.  I just might go again next year.  Hell, it was only five dollars (plus the price of all the food).

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2 Responses to “The Berkeley County Youth Fair”

  1. Lise Mendel Says:

    You definitely accomplished your main goal – the price was above the minimal acceptable level. Glad you had fun.

    Like

  2. kingmengi Says:

    True. My mom and Len were more than pleased with our efforts. I just wish we could have bid once and tasted being the winning bid if only for a split second.

    Like

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