I made my way to the fairgrounds on foot this morning, making my final mental preparations for the cotton candy and funnel cake-fueled chaos which always accompanies the arrival of the Chenango County Fair.
While most of the Evening Sun’s reporting staff spends a lot of time at the fair, each of us is assigned a particular day at the fair – meaning that it’s our day to suss out a feature-worthy story among all of the day’s happenings. Today – opening day of the 163rd installment of our county’s longest running event – was “my” day.
I was tossing a few ideas around in my head as I trekked down East Main Street, but as the main gate approached, I decided not to force it. Instead, I thought, I’d let the sights, sounds and smells of the fair lead me to a story.
At 11 a.m., vendors and exhibitors were still scrambling to set up and the Ferris wheel and other rides were making their rounds empty of fairgoers, as the last inspections were made. A few harness racers had taken to the track for what I assumed were practice rounds. The mingled scents of sausage and peppers, funnel cake and other fair food was already heavy in the air. Giant Percheron horses were stomping in their temporary stalls adjacent to the 4-H poultry tent, the occupants of which were also making their presence known.
As I listened to the ruckus, I couldn’t help but wonder if they were registering their displeasure at the proximity of the Two By Two Zoo across the way. In particular, the black leopard pacing back and forth in it’s cage. And the albeit lethargic alligators lounging by their little kitty pool.
Next door, the large pen of ready-to-pet goats looked a little nervous, too. And I didn’t blame them.
I turned back before the 4-H show ring, deciding to leave the rest of the animals for another day. Instead I grabbed lunch with my friend Julie. (Sausage and peppers, of course).
After we discarded the detritus of our hastily consumed meal (ugh, the heartburn!), we headed to the Exhibition and Floral halls. Which is where I found my story. (Don’t worry. You’ll get to read it tomorrow.)
I headed back to the office around 3, thoroughly drained by the one-two punch of heat and humidity. I relaxed in the air conditioning and gave Jeff a thorough debriefing of Day 1. After my recap, I’ll admit I was dreading the thought of having to return tonight.
But then I thought of the parade. The pastel pink and blue chickens I’d seen in the poultry tent. All the Evening Sun temporary tattoos burning a hole in my pocket. The promise of a zipper ride with my Relay partner-in-crime, the amazing Chris Greeley. And, most importantly, the funnel cake. All that cinnamon and sugar coated, artery-clogging, deep-fried goodness calling my name.
And realized I couldn’t wait to get back to the Chenango County Fair.
See you at the fair!
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