Slice of Ohio: Fun at the Fair

***EDITOR’S NOTE: This is part of an occasional, possibly fictional series of stories posted by Claire with the intent of informing outsiders about America’s greatest state, Ohio.***

So here’s the thing:

While I am still basking in the glow of The Best Thing Ever Delivered By the Postman, I remain my curmudgeonly self (well, proto-curmudgeonly – even if my nephew pegs my age at “a million-billion?”, I have not, as of yet, reached the advanced state of dereliction necessary for true curmudgeon-tude). Even Robin’s visage staring down at me from the pedestal in her shrine cannot totally distract me from today’s bit of irritating ridiculousness, tentatively titled “We are but hot steel on the fiery anvil of Hephaestus.” By which I mean, you know, it’s HOT.

August in Ohio is not a fun time of fun, my friends. The weather alternates between Way-Too Hot and Rainy, Way-Too Hot and Wet-But-Weirdly-Not-Humid-Enough-To-Rain, and Sweet Jesus, Somebody Kill Me. On average, I will sweat enough water between the car and my office to fill the Caspian Sea, and yet I remain my (shrinking, but not nearly fast enough) giant self. August in Ohio means saying goodbye to synthetic fabrics and hello to cotton; it means leaving your car window open a crack so that, when the car door is opened after a long day in the philistine sun, you are not cooked like a lobster by the resulting rush of steam. August in Ohio means taking one’s time on errands conducted during the noon hour…not because you’re easy like Sunday morning, but because hurrying will literally leave you gasping on the pavement like a dying manatee (at which point the other, less hurried folks will either use their air-conditioned cars to gently push you into the shade, or simply step over you with a look of dismay, saying “I’d love to help, but I have my family to think of…”).

Of course, August in Ohio also means it’s time for the Fair! For those of you currently living under a glitzy, bling-ed out rock or outside the Flyover States, the annual Miami County Fair is a festival celebrating nature’s bounty, the judging (and eating) of nature’s bounty, and the battering and deep-frying of whatever bounty remains to be served on sticks to kids who just got off the Tilt-o-Whirl™. It is also when the local populace of rustics (and their admirers) return to their place of birth to spawn, struggling against the raging waters of the Great Miami River in order to reach a dusty, smelly field full of dusty, smelly tents (if you, by some chance, are neither dusty nor smelly when you reach the Fair, wait ten minutes). Within these billowy emporiums of cow and goat, as well as along the sawdust-strewn pathways scattered amongst them, the male American Bumpkin (Homohio Cervixrufus) performs his mating dance and call for the female, hoping to lure her into his pickup truck with small gifts of fried dough and glittering trinkets featuring popular country music stars (Hickus Shitkickus). Once the pair have mated, the male will vanish in a cloud of lies and Marlboro smoke, only to reappear with a new mate right about the time the female is giving birth and filing for county-enforced child support. This will leave the male so impoverished that his only affordable entertainment is a trip to next year’s fair, where the cycle begins anew. Truly, the circle of life is a magical thing!

Of course, the common American Bumpkin isn’t the only creature looking for satisfaction at the Fair. Cows, pigs, chickens and lambs, each raised with care and love from birth by an innocent and dewy-eyed child, are paraded before the discerning eye of the judges, where they are awarded ribbons based on such traits as Deliciousness, Meatiness, and Ability to Evoke Tears while Being Dragged off to Certain Doom. In many cases, today’s winner will be tomorrow’s snack, thus teaching children a valuable lesson: never love anyone or anything, because someone’s just going to put it on a stick and devour it with mustard.

But wait – the fun doesn’t stop there! In addition to a menu of things you wouldn’t normally feed a dog, there’s also a collection of rickety rides, each manned by either A) a semi-alert stoner kid looking to make an easy buck before school starts and he can go back to slinging hash in the cafeteria or B) a bewhiskered and wizened carny so ravaged by time that his silhouette is a question mark and the only parts of his body still responding to his command are those required to roll and smoke his stinking homemade cigarettes.

Duuude...want to ride the Scrambler™?

Duuude...want to ride the Scrambler™?

Your life is in his burning hands.
Your life is in his burning hands.

These are the people who are expected to leap into action should disaster come calling. Luckily, the fair rides, despite their advanced decrepitude and solid-rust construction, manage to hold together year after year. This is because every year, the carnies hold a raffle whose ostensible purpose is to generate revenue and award crappy prizes to the indiscriminate, but whose TRUE purpose is to determine which unlucky fairgoer will be sacrificed to their dark carny gods in exchange for another year of successful cow-judging and hoi polloi-fleecing. So, the next time you think “Sure, I’ll enter to win that stuffed bear,” remember – all you’re really competing for is a spot in the frost-rimed maw of cruel Cthulhu.

Alas, even the good times of the fair cannot last forever, and eventually, the last beer has been spilled, the last cow sold to a man with shifty eyes, the last cheerleader impregnated (also by the shifty-eyed man). Even as the carnies and bumpkins part ways (the former opening the trans-dimensional wormholes used by their people to travel from squalid fields to dirty parking lots throughout the land, the latter shuffling off to begin, simultaneously, Christmas shopping and Halloween preparations), one can almost smell next year’s fair on the wind.

No, wait, that’s this guy:

Prizes may contain cholera

Caution: Prizes may contain cholera

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5 Responses

  1. I’m in Louisiana. And as my grandmother would say, it’s hot as Hades here too.

  2. You know, I was giving some thought to going to the Salt Lake County fair this year, but after reading this, I think I’ve changed my mind. Our fair could never live up to this.

  3. @Sra: It’s my theory that all fair attendants are the exact same people, traveling interdimensionally, so you may be able to get a similar experience at your own fair!

    @Karen: I hate it when it’s hot – Ohio’s hot and humid, but I’m sure N’awlins makes it look like the frost surface of Pluto.

  4. My comment is strictly meteorological. As a current Ohio person, I have to say I quite liked your description of Ohio summers…
    “August in Ohio is not a fun time of fun, my friends. …August in Ohio means taking one’s time on errands conducted during the noon hour…not because you’re easy like Sunday morning, but because hurrying will literally leave you gasping on the pavement like a dying manatee (at which point the other, less hurried folks will either use their air-conditioned cars to gently push you into the shade, or simply step over you with a look of dismay, saying “I’d love to help, but I have my family to think of…”).”

    Even though I have to admit, this August seems to have been far kinder. Last August was a slice of humid Inferno, yes.

  5. […] Dropped in on the Indiana State Fair. As you all know, I just looooove the fair. My favorite event? “A Year of Trees!” That’s right, kids, if you’re tired […]

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