We seem to go to the State Fair every year, for some reason. This was not the case when I was growing up. We went to the State Fair occasionally, although my dad told us stories that seemed to imply that he was a regular as a child.
But, we seem to go to the State Fair every year, even though it's mostly the same every year: same food, same rides, same layout. Every year I feel a little nostalgic for Machinery Hill, which is not the same as in the old days when my grandpa would go over to kick the tires on all of the John Deere (green) tractors.
We considered not going this year (it gets expensive, crowded, my feet hurt, and I don't really like the midway). But I think we are going to end up there, anyway.
Here's what I like about the State Fair:
1. People watching. Everybody, it seems, is at the fair. They say it is the "Great Minnesota Get-Together", and that's what it is. There are a million stories happening right before my eyes. I love to watch the people, read the T-shirt slogans, listen to the children.
2. Free Stuff. I love getting pencils, booksmarks, free bags and other Educational and Promotional Items. I know, I'm a little nerdy. Buy I like it.
3. Politicians Shake your Hands. I got a great Paul Wellstone T-shirt there many years ago. I still have it, even though it has holes in it. (there are lots of little faces on it, with the slogan "many voices, one message.")
4. Baby Animals, some being born. I love to go to the animal barns, imagine the rural kids who have been living here for ten days, competing in contests, taking care of their animals. I like that new life is happening every day at the fair, the most amazing and ordinary thing.
5. Remembrances of Fairs Past. "Remember the time we were dating and we took the Olde Mill Ride?" "Remember when we were walking down the street and we saw a Llama?" "Remember the year we got caught in the rain and the kids all wore plastic bags to stay dry?"
6. The Old Buildings with their Art Deco Architecture and Design. I love some of the buildings that have been around for years and years: like The Horticulture Building. I don't garden, but the Horticulture Building makes me wish that I did. I leave the fair thinking, "next year I will garden."
The fair is a place of abundance and possibilities. It's a place to buy stuff, eat stuff, get free stuff, talk to strangers, do something new, do the same old thing. It's a place to hold hands, hear music, walk around till your feet fall off, and realize that you are a member of a community. Some of the members of the community wear really weird T-shirts, some of them work at Jehovah Lutheran's diner, some of them are old, and some of them are young. Some of them stop in the FOX News booth, some of them wouldn't miss WCCO. We are many voices, and we have many messages, and lately we sneer at each other's opinions more than is necessary. But we're still one community. At least at the Fair.
You know, in some ways, it's like church. The same every week, the same food, the same place, the same basic layout. Now why that's working so well for the State Fair, and not always for the church: that might be a subject for another post.