Sunday, September 26, 2010

Akid'lleativytoo, Wouldn't You?

Today was the final day of the Puyallup Fair, and for the first time in a decade (at least), Dan & I made the trip down. Although nostalgia played a role, food and farm animals were the main draws for us.

With our chicken coop mostly completed and plans for even more urban farming in 2011, we wanted to visit the annual celebration of all things agrarian to check out chickens and goats, and nosh on some of the fair staples we haven't enjoyed in so long.

As luck would have it, just as we arrived a group of 6 month old and younger Pygmy goats were being judged, which had us cooing over how adorable and tiny they were. After the judging was completed, we followed the goats (and their handlers) into the barn and saw even tinier pygmy goats and little babies. It's a very real possibility that goats will be in our future if they're that cute - though some seem a little noisy.

Our next stop was one of the many Fisher stands, where we picked up two of their classic scones with raspberry freezer jam. Having recently realized that raspberry freezer jam is among my very favorite foods (I've been known to select my breakfast option at Julia's based on whether it comes with toast, just so I can slather it with jam), I was eager for this familiar treat and it didn't disappoint. The flaky, buttery scone is a wonderful vehicle to get raspberry jam into my maw, and I could've eaten a bakers dozen if we weren't trying to pace ourselves in order to gorge on other fair delights.

After checking out chickens and dogs, it was time for some lunch in the form of a Krusty Pup. The Sales family has been doling out food to ravenous fairgoers since 1923, and the Krusty Pup is their trademarked version of a corn dog with a thick corn batter fried to a golden brown.

Next up we ventured into the endless maze of the freaky commercial buildings, where TV infomercials come to life and harass you to come try out the latest and greatest telescoping flag pole, food chopper, or color-changing lipstick. I found myself drawn to the worm bin booth, but didn't want to lug a worm bin around the rest of the day. We also checked out the hobby halls, where I realized the important role the fair plays in the community, and remembered my own experiences at the Evergreen State fair during my 4H days. The fair provides a venue for showcasing any hobby or trade that may be undertaken by the youth and adults of the county, from collecting Mr. Ed memorabilia, to raising rabbits, to flower arranging, to woodworking (which was what my fair memories were linked to). From the impressive to the banal, all the handiwork is presented side by side, legitimized and embraced by the community, building self esteem and fueling passions. No wonder the fair grows bigger every year (it's one of the ten biggest in the US) - as the community grows and the variety of interests grows. Although I didn't see it, I wonder if less physical and more digital hobbies will begin showing up at the fair - a child's first web site, perhaps?

Before we left the fair, dessert was the final order of business. Dan went for some ice cream from the Dryers booth, while I pondered which fair treat to make my final taste of the day. I was almost drawn in by the funnel cakes, but fond memories of elephant ears won out. Back when I was in 4H and showed my woodworking projects at the fair, we'd spend many days there, hanging out and checking out our friends livestock and craft projects, and of course, eating fair food. Cinnamon & sugar coated elephant ears were a favorite treat, for sure. When I saw that they now come coated in raspberry freezer jam, my decision was made. I'd forgotten just how huge an elephant ear is - and the addition of jam made it a cumbersome culinary challenge (not to mention lending it a more-than-mildly gorey appearance). I opted to fold it burrito-style, wrapped in paper, and devour it from one end. This minimized the mess, though I almost left the fair looking like an extra from a slasher film - but with a big smile on my face.

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