In Lancaster County, PA the start of fall also meant the start of county fairs in surrounding counties. We usually attended two different ones. One in the Solanco County which was one of our favorites and then one in West Lampeter County where we lived in at the time.
Solanco County’s fair always started off with a big parade on Wednesday nights. It was a big deal for that small community. Parades were not the norm–there weren’t any on the 4th of July or anything like that so this once a year event was huge.
One of the most exciting parts of the fair(s) was the week before it started. Since I was homeschooled I could and usually did finish my coursework by lunchtime. The afternoons were spent in developing hobbies and I did all sorts of things like sewing, working on my postcard collection, embroidery, cross stitch, and more. The fairs always had displays of handiwork and food. You could enter your finished projects in different categories to be judged and possibly win prizes. After I entered my projects I waited with bated breath until the fair opened and I could see if I had won anything and see what others had entered.
I usually did win a fair amount of ribbons and there was a mix of levels. Some were blue (the highest) followed by some red (second) and white (third). There was also honorable mention ribbons, but I don’t recall that I ever received one of those. At the end of the fair we always picked up our stuff and showed our ribbons to the cashier to receive our cash prizes.
The rest of the fair was fun too! There were animal displays and all the cows, pigs, goats, sheep, etc. all looked so pretty and clean for their competitions. There were tents where local businesses had booths set up. Usually (especially during election years!) there were quite a few of local and state government representatives. Everyone had a little something to hand out. Maybe some paper, pencils, a lollipop or something else advertising their name/business. I would get a little bag and we would visit everyone. By the time finished the tents I had almost enough pencils to last the school year! I also looked forward to the one display with baby ducklings. I look back and think it was a little cruel for the ducklings, but they were so cute. There was a slide that had a tray of food almost out of the duckling’s reach. If they went up the ramp and tried to get the food they would get a little food, but then slide down the slide to the water below and then start all over again.
The smells and the food were amazing. There was a daily meal which smelled terrific. There was the ice cream stand with the most delightful ice cream ever! I usually picked the strawberry flavor and my sister picked chocolate. There were funnel cakes and elephant ears, hot dogs, burgers, and the best French fries ever and probably even more horrible for you foods than I remember.
The fair lasted 3 days Wednesday-Friday and it usually took a couple of visits to see everything. After two different weeks of fairs we were tired of all the excitement and ready to start working on our projects for the next year.
Have you ever attended a county fair? What did you like best about it? Was it different from the ones I went to?