Meet Me At the Ferris Wheel

| 7/23/2015 9:09:00 AM

Andrew WeidmanThe Dog Days have arrived, ushering in my favorite part of summer: Fair Week. What’s not to like about a fair? Ice cream and cider and barbecue chicken, hot dogs and corn dogs and thick chocolate milkshakes, fresh funnel cake all powdered with sugar … OK, yeah, the tune to ‘Favorite Things’ is running through my head right now, but really, these are some of my favorite fair things.

Fairs help define America, at least rural America. They’ve been a part of the landscape for a long time, bringing us together before we became a nation.

Last year, the York Fair celebrated its Centennial, and of course I had to be there. I live about two hours from York, so I haven’t been there in a very long time. It’s a big deal, and rightfully so. Every year, big name headliner bands come to the fair, both country and rock stars making appearances. York’s not a small city, and the fair is in town, not on the outskirts. The fair’s name says it all: The Great York Interstate Fair is a big deal

Every one's a winner! 

It was a sobering visit, and a bit disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, the fair had everything you’d expect: fair foods, barking vendors, games of chance and skill, and a Midway you could get lost in – and that was the problem. Everything I just listed covered easily three quarters of the fairgrounds. The livestock, the produce, the canned goods, the competition entries, all the elements of country life, the point of a fair, seemed beside the point, almost an afterthought. I began to wonder if fairs have outlived their purpose. Maybe they have.

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