Friday, October 1, 2010

The Butter Cow

My first experience with a fair was the Illinois State Fair.  I was just barely 20, working in a press office, writing stilted press releases on an old IBM typewriter and reading the latest news of the day which, if I remember correctly, featured Vanessa Williams' naked pictures in Penthouse. 

It was easy work. Decent pay for a summer  job where I chased politicians, wrote stories about the annual butter cow, and interviewed singer, songwriter Willie Nelson.  It was good experience and life altering, since I would come to live in Central Illinois later in life, and meet my husband. One of our first dates? Why yes, the Illinois State Fair.

It’s been 20 years since we had that first encounter -- complete with lemon shake-ups and vinegar fries. I liked the Illinois fair because of what it stood for in the agricultural Midwest -- 4-H clubs showcasing their best in animal husbandry, bad 80s concert bands, and my favorite activity: City kids could actually milk a cow with their hands for 25 cents. No liability issues there! 

Now we live in Southern California, and I’m not sure why we don’t frequent the LA County Fair more since I like fairs in general.  But this year was different. For I, on a whim, submitted some of my canned jams for competition. And you know what? I won.

The only prize I received for something I made was when I was 10, winning second place in a sewing contest. I won a book. This time they brought out the big guns: ribbons. I won two first-place blue ribbons, one third-place white, and the kicker, a purple ribbon touting my greatest accomplishment: Best of Division.

I’m excited as all get-out to have my name among the other winners – especially the ones who don’t even live in Los Angeles County.

The LA County Fair is no means a fair that comes straight out of the Midwest. For one, there is no 4-H competition (it's my understanding that those competitions will happen after the fair), and you also can't milk a cow unless you mean holding a metal contraption that milks a cow. But it is still a lot of fun -- especially if you suck up the high cost of parking, food and rides, lower your expectations on how many different kinds of animals you'll see, and, of course, win a competition or two.

My husband, who hates farm chores, never cared too much for Central Illinois and things like county and state fairs.

I, on the other hand, always have loved the vast flat land of green and dairy, and of course, a good fair.

Thanks LA. You may not be the best fair I’ve ever attended, but you're a winner in my eyes.

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations, Karen! I'm telling could have a side business. :)


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