Friday, September 22, 2006

Committee attends country fair, indulges in agrarian reverie; somehow manages to return to Manhattan without rabbits & chickens tucked under its arms

As we did last year, we went to Connecticut for the weekend to attend the Durham Fair, an agricultural fair that's been held the last weekend of every September since 1916. According to Wikipedia it is "one of the largest agricultural fairs in the world," but the fair's organizers more modestly refer to it as "the largest agricultural fair in Connecticut." There are competitive exhibits of cows, goats, pigs, chickens, rabbits, sheep, llamas, fruits and vegetables, etc., all lovingly brushed or groomed or scrubbed or polished in hopes of winning a ribbon. Durham is a small, very pretty town about twenty miles north east of New Haven.

There are rides and games, and commercial and crafts buildings where you can buy a super-fantastic squeegee chamois mop-of-the-future, or a kitschy sign for your Winnebago ("A balanced meal is a beer in each hand," and so forth), but the focus is on the animals.

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prize-winning pickles

prize-winning pickles

carrots 1st prize pumpkin

prize-winning apples

It's hard to decide what to eat at the fair. There are all the usual junky treats, but at the Durham fair about half of the stands are run by local groups (volunteer fire departments, little league teams, etc.), and their food is generally more appealing than that sold at the garish trailers that travel around the country peddling corndogs. There's tons of fried stuff but I didn't see any of the grotesque novelties that I've read are popular at other fairs. Unfortunately most of the things we tried smelled and looked better than they tasted. My roast beef sandwich, for example, was marred by flavorless fake cheese that was inexcusably advertised as "cheddar." The fried dough with tomato sauce was ok; I still can't decide if I prefer it that way or with powdered sugar.

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fried dough with tomato sauce

IMG_1490 lime rickey

sleeping on a cow

giant cows

pretty speckled cow

piglet frenzy

IMG_1598 spangled Bantam chicken

silver Sebright chicken

One of my favorite breeds of chicken, a silver Sebright. They also come in a very chic light brown. I would love to have a few of these in a fancy hen house.

very serious bunny

piglet frenzy

llama llamas

This darling, inquisitive llama sniffed my hair and rubbed her fuzzy nose all over my face and ears. We went back to visit with her again before we left but by that time she was completely asbsorbed in her dinner of fresh hay. Llamas have a very amusing way of munching hay; they have endearing overbites and the bottom of their jaw appears to move in an oval.


sunset at the fair


  1. That's a great looking country fair with lots of good looking animals. Those chickens looks especially decorative. I think you should have brought one back with you -- just what every city apartment needs!

  2. oh, you've just made me soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo nostalgic for my childhood!!
    I was a 4-Her for years
    I had a bunny, and borrowed some calves to show, and every year I would enter some of my produce (and one year I even helped my friend's cow give birth, right there in front of everyone! with my arm up a cow's backside!)

    One year I won a blue for my radishes.
    Another year I won a blue for a quilt.
    I also rode my horses and worked at the dairy bar (ice cream and milkshakes)
    oh, so nostalgic....

  3. lovely, lovely! I love fairs! The pig pictures are works of art!

  4. Julie: I agree, although our dog would certainly be jealous! I have found two sites about raising urban chickens (Happy Chickens: The Story of an Urban FLock and The City Chicken) but I think my fire escape is just a bit too urban.
    Ann: I am jealous of all that quality time you spent with bunnies, calves, horses and the dairy barn! That impromptu midwifery sounds like an amazing experience —
    Ulla: Thank you!

  5. The pictures! I love fairs, well over here I get sagras and festas, but in the end they all share the same goal. The food booths are hard to resist but seeing the farm animals makes my inner child come out!