Sunday, August 5, 2007

Our State Fair is a Great State Fair....

Friday evening, someone mentioned that the State Fair had begun, and I started thinking maybe we should go. I consulted the Daily Schedule, the Weather, and all the omens were good for a Saturday visit to the Fair. We've been having weather in the high 90's. I don't like to be outdoors when it's this hot, but the prediction for Saturday was in the high 70's!!! It was the only day for a week that had a temperature like that, so it was a deciding factor. The people that told us about the Fair suggested several things to see, eat and drink. I had a list of things to accomplish! Sometimes I become a bit obsessed with my lists, so I made a vow to be flexible, to allow for spontaneous experiences, and to have Fun. Good thing I did, because the schedule went out the window the first 15 minutes!
While we were standing in line for something (food, I'm sure) I could hear the announcer for a bunch of children's events. I left my hubby in line and ran over to get a look at the Smile contest. These are the 6-8 year olds. It brought back so many memories of my own childhood and I smiled in response. I stayed to watch the 3-4 year old dance contest. That actually make me laugh, and sigh. It's wonderful to see children before they have learned to be inhibited. Wouldn't it be great to move and act the way we FEEL instead of the way we THINK we should look?

We couldn't leave without visiting the Cream Puff Parlor. The “Original Cream Puffs” are celebrating 83 years of Wisconsin State Fair tradition. This is a BIG deal here.We stood in a line for nearly 10 minutes to get our cream puffs. We paid $3 each, and watched people having them boxed up in dozens! During the fair, you can preorder cream puffs to pick up at a special drive up window to take to work. They sell 100's of Thousands of Cream Puffs!! We saw people eating cream puffs everywhere.

It is suggested that you pull them apart and eat it as two halfs with cream on them rather than trying to squash it together and eat it as a sandwich, in which case the cream would all squeeze out onto the ground! Can't be wasting that cream!!!

Eventually we made our way to the Exposition Hall where the vendors were selling things both expected and novel. Since this IS Wisconsin and these folk are know as Cheese Heads, why not buy a baseball cap or a top hat made to look like cheese? And don't forget all the Green Bay Packer memorabilia. Much of the stuff made me squirm, as I remembered being suckered into buying it in the past.

What impresses me is that it's still around!
There was the waterless cookware (two different versions) and the special knives that never need sharpening. VitaMix is still alive and well and had rather a large audience for the demo. Lots of gadgets to make cleaning easier, take impossible stains out (yeah, right) and shine everything from jewelery to tire rims.
I lost count of the number of hot tub and spa sites. We found some of our favorites, the suspended swing, the redwood gliders, the device that rubs your back while you sit in the chair. We ate more food and watched people. After a while, we looked at each other and said, "We're sure not in California!" Wisconsin has it's own variety of people and most of them were drinking beer!

It began to sprinkle, so we ducked into the Arts & Crafts building. I'm always awed by the handmade items, everything from furniture to quilts, from desserts to flower arrangements.
Someone had won a blue ribbon for a Sunflower head as big as a hubcap and full of seeds. I'm growing one in my garden (it's nearly 12 feet high!) but it has only just developed a small flower. I'm only hoping to get a flower that big by October.
The blue ribbon for Kohlrabi (a vegetable I was unaware of before moving to WI) went to a specimen that was bigger than my head! The kohlrabi in my garden is not quite the size of a tennis ball. I want to know where they are growing this stuff! The Bonsai competition was amazing. Some of the "miniature" trees are 80-100 years old! Unfortunately, the blue ribbon flowers were already in severe wilt. And this was only day 3 of the Fair.

Finally it was time to make our way to the Coliseum to get seats for the National Clydesdale Show. The Budweiser Clydesdales, the famous “gentle giants” that have been the ambassadors of Anheuser-Busch since 1933, were scheduled to start the show, but it was raining and they don't bring the horses out in the rain? (That is what was announced) Some fun loving souls decided we should entertain ourselves and began the process of developing the Wave. It took nearly two dozen false starts before the Wave made it all the way around the hall. We were laughing and cheering and making our own fun (remember that everyone had been drinking beer all day!). It was my first experience of participating in and watching the Wave happen. I loved it!

After what seemed like a long wait, the Show began. The first classification was single horse carts. It was thrilling to see those big horses trot around the ring. They are so graceful, yet have such strength, we could feel the breeze created as they passed by us. First the male horses and drivers competed, then the female horses, some with female drivers, some with male drivers. The male drivers all wore shirts, ties, hats and most wore jackets. There was not a standard "costume" for the women. Most of them had bare arms, and I could see the muscles working as they controlled the cart and horse. The carts were bright and colorful. It looked like fun.
There were a few more categories to watch while we were waiting for the GOOD stuff.
The competition for 6-horse hitch was so large they did it in three sections. Fourteen teams were finally judged and seven ribbons awarded. When all 14 teams were in the ring at the same time it was something to see. I could have watched this all day. However, my butt had other ideas. We had been sitting for nearly two hours on aluminum benches and it was beginning to be rather uncomfortable. But the 8-horse hitch competition was still to come. I wasn't going to leave because my fanny was sore. So we stood during every lull in the proceedings and I took a walk around the building. Eight teams were in the 8-horse hitch competition. It was like watching the Budweiser Clydesdales over and over. I finally realized that the digital camera can film short videos, so I filmed most of the rest of the program. (I'm trying to insert it patient!)
Before the evening was over, it was announced that this was the National Clydesdale Competition. In October the World Competition (500 horses!!!) is being held in Madison, WI. Guess where I'll be in October?

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