Fairs Feature Fun Festivities

Community, county and state fairs offer odd and unusual events.
Michelle Critchell
September/October 2007
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Calf dressing catches the attention of many visitors to the Ephrata Fair in Ephrata, Pennsylvania.
Carol Stark

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Get your goat” or “Put the cow out to pasture.” The phrases take on new meaning when used in the context of a community fair. Get your goat, dress her up, and enter her in the Pretty Goat contest at the Great Frederick Fair in Maryland, or put the cow in the football field for Cow Pie Bingo at the Unionville, Pennsylvania, Fair and Farm Show.

We all look forward to our annual county and state fairs. Some school districts even let out early for the events. Children and adults scurry to decorate straw bales, stuff scarecrows, and eat stacks of pies. It’s easy to be drawn to the excitement.

“Cow Pie Bingo is one of our fair’s biggest draws,” says Jayne Shea of the Unionville Fair and Farm Show. The football field is marked off in a grid and people purchase a promising square. “Then Mr. Bailey lets one of his cows loose on the field, and a winner is determined by where she leaves the cow pie,” Shea says. Unionville also hosts a cow milking contest.

Eating contests are also a fair favorite. Pie eating is a standard, but the New Holland Farmer’s Fair in Pennsylvania holds a Long John eating contest. Not the underwear, but a long glazed donut, which is a regional favorite.

The cross-cut saw competition is popular at the Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, Farmer’s Fair. “We saw for about two hours,” says Carl Shearer, president of the fair. “Most of the people have never sawn before.”

Families turn out for the hand-cranked ice-cream contest in Dillsburg. “We get unusual flavors of ice cream. We hardly ever get vanilla,” Shearer says.

The contests illustrate America’s sense of humor and sense of adventure. Whatever your passion – pig catching, calf dressing, ice-cream cranking, cross-cut sawing, rooster crowing, pedal pulling, or even pickle flinging – you can dress it, taste it or toss it at your community fair.

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