I too am a hick. I admit it. Sometimes I like to
tromp around fairs and festivals, look at the other hicks, and
inhale the greasy air. It's a taste of Americana - no pun intended.
The fairs and festivals that sprout up like weeds in the Midwest in
August are replete with bored people looking for anything to keep
their brains from become atrophied. One can only watch so many
re-runs of the Beverly Hillbillies, you know. Fairs and festivals
are places where hicks like me can find free entertainment among the
elephant ears, funnel cakes and Uncle Jim's Super Sausage
The Midwest fairs and festivals in August are a cardiologists dream.
A typical fair meal of two Uncle Jims, an order of "fresh cut"
French fries cooked in pure lard, a couple of funnel cakes or
elephant ears - your choice - topped off with Granny Emily's "fresh"
peach cobbler ala mode has just 12,000 calories and 250 grams of
saturated fat and 67 grams of trans fat. Who's counting. It's fair
time in the Midwest - a time when all us hicks throw caution to the
wind and stuff ourselves with grease-laden goodies. Yum! Makes me
hungry just thinking about it. Makes me
hungry just thinking about it.
My festival meal has all the food
groups covered too:
The meat group. The bread group. The vegetable group. The fat group.
The dairy group. The sugar group. The fresh-air group. The pasty
All this thinking about fair food puts me in the mood to sit back
and have a cigarette. After all that fat, would it really matter?
Eat, drink and be merry! Anyone know where I can buy a beer?
Fairs and festivals are excellent places to study new cultures too.
Take the "carnies" for instance. Carnies are a very interesting lot.
They are well-traveled and have an air of sophistication about them
a Midwestern hick like me doesn't often get to see. It's almost like
going to New York or Los Angeles without having to leave the comfort
of my little town.
Carnies were tattooed and pierced long before it became popular with
the youth here in the Midwest. I can remember being a kid and paying
my quarter to through a baseball at some furry dolls trying to win a
Zippo lighter. I can't remember why I wanted that Zippo so bad
because I didn't smoke when I was eight. I sure wanted it though.
Maybe it was the budding arsonist in me? Maybe I should be thankful
those dolls were 90% fur and 10% substance. I never got my Zippo and
therefore never became an arsonist. I did become a smoker though -
although that was much later. I finally bought a Zippo. But, by the
time I actually put my fingers around that smooth, cool surface of a
Zippo, the firebug had left me.
I digress. I remember ogling the carnie women when I was a kid. My
grandfather called them "gypsies" and so did I. Now they are called
"carnies", which, I suppose, is a less negative moniker than
"gypsies" - more politically correct in this age of PC. I used to
marvel at the tattooed ladies. We didn't have many tattooed ladies
walking down the streets of my little town. So this was my
once-a-year chance to ogle at these ladies and I always did.
I imagine the girls used to ogle the carnie men too. Not having been
a girl, I'm not sure of this. It seems to me though, the young girls
of my little town must have been doing their share of ogling. Girls
are more sneaky than guys. Girls ogle furtively. I know they must
have been ogling and quivering with excitement though. I mean these
carnie guys had traveled the world. Who knows, they might have even
been to Missouri or even Colorado! What girl wouldn't have given
anything to travel with a guy who had slicked-back hair, dirty
fingernails, and a Camel hanging from their lips? These guys had
actually been to Colorado! These guys live out of suitcases! Real
men. Real nomads! The girls were ogling, I'm sure of it. Ogling the
guys just like I was ogling the painted gypsies - err I mean
Missouri and Colorado were far away places when I was growing up. I
would nibble on my funnel cake and wonder what they ate in places
like that. I had only seen these kinds of places and people in
This year, I will be going to the Circleville Pumpkin Show. This
festival is so big and so popular that it's not called a "fair" or
even a "festival" - it's a show. A really big show. They have the
world's largest pumpkin there - so so they say. When I saw a photo
of it, it didn't look like a pumpkin at all. It looked like a big,
gray tumor. Here, you think I'm kidding don't you. Look down!
Makes you wonder from which of these fine folks that
big gray thing was extracted, doesn't it? Whichever it was, I bet
they felt better with it out. What? You say it's tan not gray?
Adjust your monitor! It's sure not ORANGE. Hey, take a gander at
that big trophy! Only in small-town America! I bet you New Yorkers
are oozing envy right now.
Anyway...being a hick, and having only been exposed to pumpkins
from around my little town, I thought pumpkins were supposed to be
orange. The people who run the Pumpkin Show and who know much more
about pumpkins than I do chose a big gray lump to be the star of the
show last year. They said it was the world's largest pumpkin which
shows you how much I know. I'm heading down there this year to get
an education about pumpkins - the gray kind - and to eat funnel
cakes, Uncle Jim's Sausage sandwiches, "fresh-cut" French fries,
Granny Emily's "fresh" peach cobbler ala mode, drink beer and try
something new: pumpkin burgers.
I can hardly wait.
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