We spent most of our time looking at animals. The first place we went to was the sheep area so we could take sheep pictures for Graham. Then we headed over to watch a little bit of a horse show. I'd never seen one before, but it was kind of neat! It was a special show of Friesian horses which are apparently uncommon in the United States. We saw some walk-trot-canter action and totally called the winner -- the other horses looked like amateurs in comparison. There was also a "costume" round where women in fancy dresses rode around.
The horse show concluded with a very long section of "liberty" performances. In these, the horse ran around with a rider, and one or two trainers in the ring just made noise or waved whips to direct the horse around. The audience was also called on to Part of the judging in this competition was "obvious enjoyment of performing". Oh yeah, and they played music. Stuff like "Get Ready For This" and "Eye of the Tiger". And sadly most of the horses seemed preoccupied with this one section of the coliseum where some spectators were standing right up by the wall. I'd say 3/4 of the liberty horses never even went on the other half of the show floor because they kept trying to dodge their trainers so they could stand by that wall. That was kind of disappointing. One of the better performers, though, had this really sweet ending -- when the music ended, most horses kept running until their trainers came over to lead them away, but this one responded to the end of the music, and sauntered up to its trainer in the center, and stopped right in front of her with its head down, and then the trainer touched her nose to its snout like a little eskimo kiss.
Over in the pig section of the fair, we overhead the end of a hog contest in which the announcer, a man in his 50s or 60s got all choked up -- it was really cute. He talked about how much hogs mean to him and that he feels so honored and lucky whenever he gets to judge a really fine hog show. Unfortunately there was quite a crowd around the show area so we couldn't get up to see the amazing pigs that had touched his heart, but it made me happy to hear him feeling so earnestly happy himself.
From there we moved on to the art show. There were some really impressive paintings there of kids swimming with animals -- the rippling water looked almost photographic from a distance. It was an amazing reproduction, done with individual streaks of paint layered on top of each other almost like a topographic map. I saw some photos I liked a lot too, including a road bending off into the night and a pair of nervous-looking feet off-center, with most of the frame showing receding floorboards.
Then we went to see the chickens, which surprisingly turned out to be the highlight of the afternoon. I'd seen footage before of carefully-bred pigeons with bizarre plumage, but I'd never seen it done with chickens. I was surprised by the variety of sizes, colors and patterns even on the "normal" chickens, and then the more "showy" birds were just amazing. Meanwhile, there was also row of turkeys, and my god -- they are so disgusting. The bulbs of skin all over their heads and necks you see in photos (including but not limited to the wattle) are all soft and barely attached, so they flop all over the place, stretch out and contract spontaneously and they basically look like a big pile of convulsing flesh from a monster movie.
To get those images out of our minds we looked at rabbits for a while, but despite their cuteness we couldn't help but think, "the chickens were better." The rabbits were just too samey. I wanted more variety.
At this point we finally made our way to the rides area, stopping briefly to take a look at a "Masters of the Chainsaw" demonstration. I was interested to see that the sculptor actually had two chainsaws with him that he switched between, although I didn't figure out what the difference was -- like one was better at fine detail and the other for large cuts, or something.
It was approaching 7 PM by this time and we all had things to do, plus the rides are pretty expensive if you don't buy a ride-all-day and take advantage of it ($2 or $3 per ride when paying with tickets). There were two little roller coasters there -- a Wildcat and a Crazy Mouse -- which I would have really enjoyed, but the lines were pretty long and we were sort of winding down, so we only took one ride, on an off-brand Wave Swinger. Always a strong choice.
Heading back to the car, we stopped into a little NASA exhibit truck where they had some crappy computer terminals that didn't do very much, a bin of Duplo bricks that was sealed with duct tape so you couldn't play with them, and a piece of moon rock sealed in resin and being talked about by my former student Kevin D. That was a pleasant surprise. He was wearing his FEH program polo shirt and said the NASA guys hadn't given him a NASA shirt. It was the next-to-last day of the whole fair, NASA! What gives? Kevin totally deserves a shirt for helping out with the only interesting part of your dumb trailer.
The last stop on our way out was a little fresh-brewed root beer stand. (Pictured by someone else here, my camera had died by this point.) The guy running it was really cool -- apparently it's just a hobby but he goes around to a bunch of shows every summer to sell. He even has giant tin mugs to sell that he gives cheap refills for. I had a root beer, and it was *amazing*. Among well-known brands I'd say it was closest to an A&W, very creamy and frothy. Maggie got some cherry stuff which was also really good. I would have loved to try his other flavors... cream soda, a birch beer, and even an orange cream soda he calls "orange zippy"! He only sells in person at fairs and festivals and doesn't even have a website, but I will definitely look for him next year! Oh, and he had a fancy "Root Beer Man" logo shaved into the back of his head. Awesome.
Here is a link to the photos I posted on Facebook:
And my videos as well: