Excuse me while I go to the fair

If I am slightly unavailable for the next few days, I have a good reason: It’s State Fair time.

I am a 100-percent, dyed-in-the-wool, accept-no-substitutes Indiana State Fair junkie and have been all my life. I’m not sure how many State Fairs I’ve been to, but 50 does not seem out of the question. Whatever the number, it’s a lot of corn dogs and lemon shake-ups over the bridgework.

What attracts me to the Fair? Well, let me start by saying what doesn’t: Fair food. I know, I know. Comments like that can make the State Police come to your door and demand that you hand over your Hoosier card.

Sorry. Can’t help it. With the exception of the aforementioned corn dogs and shake-ups – and even then, they have to come from one particular corn-dog-and-shake-up stand to the exclusion of all others – I am not a big fan of what other people call Fair Cuisine and I call Deep Fried Grease On A Stick (they put it on a stick so that it has some actual nutritional content).

I suppose this goes back to kidhood, when going to the fair meant pestering the parents for every morsel of junk available and always hearing the same answer: “No,” followed by “I can make better at home.” The latter was true. Mom really did make better at home. Especially her elephant ears, made with real elephant.

Grow up like this and a phenomenon occurs that is not unlike the kid/junk food version of Stockholm Syndrome, where hostages begin agreeing with their captors. Kids begin agreeing with their parents. Either that or they spend the rest of their lives defiantly eating funnel cakes and end up weighing 400 pounds.

I go to the fair to feel good. Looking at pigs makes me feel good. There’s something very satisfying about looking at pigs. Maybe it comes from being grateful that you’re a human and not a pig.

I go to see the best of what my state has to offer. I know, my beloved Indiana can be kind of peculiar, but I sort of forget that at fair time. Whether it’s 4-H projects or commercial exhibits, I view the fair as the one place where the best of who we are and what we can be is on display.

Plus, there’s a giant popcorn ball on display in the Ag-Hort Building. It was made in LaGrange County. Where else could you find something as weirdly, wonderfully Hoosier as that?

See you at the fair.

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