Let the Fairs Begin!

photo by Jennwith2ns 2007

Foliage this.

The travel brochures are right, you know. While other places may rival New England at other times of the year (though it has its charms all year round), there is no better place in the world to be during the months of September and October than this. I say this not having been to every single place in the world in September and October, but still having been enough places to make a confidently educated guess.

Yesterday, my Paul and I began our round of fairs. I admit, the local country fair isn’t solely a New England phenomenon–nor is it even proprietary to the United States of America. (I know, right?!) But I can’t really speak with authority about similar goings on in other countries. For a general overview of the such events in the US, read Charlotte’s Web, or go see the musical State Fair, neither of which stories take place at a New England fair. But New England has the backdrop of rolling hills and changing foliage and quaint oldest-in-America-type towns, and the fairs themselves bring out all varieties of New Englander from red neck to hippie, and make you wonder if, in the end, the two groups might be closer to each other than you might at first think.

The fair we went to yesterday was the Brimfield Fair in Massachusetts, a famous and enormous antiques fair that happens a couple of times a year and which somehow, until yesterday, I had never visited. It was hot and it would have been nice if I had thought to take my new floppy straw hat out of my car before I left the car at the mechanics’, not only because it would have kept some of the sun off, but also because it would have looked fantastic with my long gauzy hippie skirt and t-shirt I was wearing. We walked our feet off and each found something affordable we had been in the market for, and I had a falafel for lunch, a feat is difficult for me to achieve in Our Fair City. Then we walked back to the truck. See? Hippie/red neck. It works.

public domain


Today we took Alicia to a smaller town fair nearby. There were tractor pulls and oxen pulls and lots and lots of farm animals. Including a capybara–which none of us were aware was a farm animal until today. Reputedly, they’re delicious.

I felt sort of conflicted some of the time, because there really is still a part of me that’s city-dwelling and multiculturally-oriented, in spite of the fact that I haven’t had the chance to tap into much of that in the last seven years or so, and this thing was sort of an idealised pastoral white-American dream . . . but the thing is, in spite of historic atrocities committed by members of the people group into which I was born–well, it doesn’t mean everything about the culture is evil, some of it is actually good, and man do I like fried dough.

The rest of the autumn will doubtless involve more fairs, and apple cider (non-alcoholic and also maybe the hard variety) and home-made doughnuts, crisp air, vibrantly coloured leaves, and friends and family. Once when I was in London, one of my friends said, delightedly, “You can tell it’s autumn! The leaves are turning brown!” and it was all I could do not to laugh, although the cosy thing definitely applies in London, too. Everybody around here says autumn is their favourite time of year, and it’s mine, too. But that is obviously because there is no better place to be in the world in September and October.

4 thoughts on “Let the Fairs Begin!

  1. love autumn in New England…it’s my favorite time of year except Spring after a long winter, or winter during the first snow fall, or that pretty color of green that only happens in May…I like all the months except February which is too short and too snowy and drags out winter too long…Have you been to the King Richard Faire?

    • I never have, although I’ve been interested in it for a while (in spite, or maybe because of how blatantly pagan I’ve heard it is). I’m taking the Youth Group to a Ren Faire in CT next month.

  2. Here in Old England, we are in the midst of our county fair season too. Because of the extraordinarily wet summer over here, much has been cancelled, so our local fair of last Sunday became a major attraction for many of the surrounding counties.

    Not that Mrs G and I dropped in. As per usual, we were going against the grain and all we encountered were the unprecedented queues and overheated vehicles as we attempted to weave our way in and out in a bid to make it on time to visit a cloth mill that had been my childhood neighbour.

    I grew up in the shadow of this cloth mill, one of hundreds that had been active in my part of the world. My aunt and uncle worked there, my mother worked at an adjacent mill. The mill is under redevelopment and this was to be the final opportunity to visit before the building work began.

    We were not disappointed. There will be more of this on my own blog.

    The county show? A resounding success of course. The weather was stunning, the visitor numbers twice that of last year. But, next year, we may well try to visit New England in the fall. It has to be done.

    • It absolutely has to be done–I concur.

      I’m glad you made it to the cloth mill.

      Fortunately our weather has been fair, and better than typical English fare (sorry–that had to be done, too), and there are SO MANY country fairs around here that very few of them lead to significant traffic pile-ups. Although I guess one also learns which routes to avoid during this season. Going through Brimfield last week for anything other than their fair would’ve been completely daft.

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