The weatherman in Arizona must have one of the most boring jobs in the world....all he ever gets to say is "Today will be sunny and clear!". OK, I'm sure that isn't always true, but it's been true since we arrived. I'm certainly not complaining, I'm just surprised at how perfect the weather is. Long may it last!!
The Arizona State Fair started a few days ago, but Wednesday was the first day of the fair that Randy didn’t have to work, so it was Fair Day for us! We go there a couple minutes before noon, when the fair opened, and learned that entrance was free before 1 pm! That makes 2 state fairs where we have gotten a break on entrance fees - maybe this is a trend?
One of the first exhibits we saw was an enormous model train setup. It was really cool - it included several different train lines, roundtables and towns, with a detailed desert and mesa landscape. It’s the creation of a local train club and it looks like a permanent exhibit.
The fair had some interesting twisty-and-turny rides but we weren’t in the mood for rides. What we were in a mood was some fair food, so we shared a good Polish sausage, and then tried a BBQ’d turkey leg. But apparently I've been spoiled by Randy's excellent turkey-cooking skills, because I was really disappointed in that – it was dry and tough, without much flavor.
This fair is the first one we attended where they sell beer on the Midway, next to the corndogs and cotton candy. One stand advertised “imported beer”, which oddly enough was Samuel Adams Octoberfest beer. Michelob offered beer samples which was nice, although the beer wasn’t as cold as it should have been.
We were surprised to see a full team of the Saint Louis Clydesdales at this fair! They were housed in stalls under shade netting, which is like roughing it in the wilderness for these horses - I've seen their regular quarters in St. Louis, and they live better than most people! Most of this team were young – 4 or 5 years old. They are so gorgeous – something about their massive size and gentle demeanor is so impressive.
The only animal act we found at the fair was a pig race. The carney gave them a funny and big build-up and everyone was expecting some big, fast pigs to come out to race, but when the gates opened, 5 little piglets trotted out! But they did race and they were pretty fast.
This fair has a lot of exhibit halls that I associate with county fairs. First we walked through the craft exhibits, which included collections of things like transformer toys, buttons, Titanic memorabilia, etc. Some of these exhibits had notecards that explained how the owner/exhibitor had been collecting them for several years and what their favorite items were and where they got them, and then mentioned that the owner was. . . maybe 6 or 7 years old. It was so obvious that the collections belonged to the parents!! There were also beautiful quilts, sewing, flowers, and wood carving, including as an intricately carved clock that Randy and I both loved. There was a large culinary exhibit with lots of cookies, cakes, and bread. I’m sure the entries were really good, but food doesn’t hold up too well during several days without wrapping or refrigeration, so most of them didn’t look very appetizing.
Then we walked through the agriculture exhibit. There was a whole barn of sheep – large, small, with horns, without horns, wooly, shorn, and in the process of being shorn (which they didn’t seem to like at all). There were a lot of rabbits, who looked so soft and cuddly that we both wanted to pick them up. And, to my surprise, there were llamas. Llamas are taller than I thought, with long necks, long curved ears that stand straight up, and amazing long eyelashes. Several of them had what I called a modified poodle-cut – their fur was trimmed down to the skin on their body and legs, with long fur left at the shoulder and hips. They were very alert and interested in everything going on, raising their heads over the fences to watch everyone.
We like to see the local entertainment when we go to a fair, so we checked what was on the schedule. One interesting show was put on by two young lumberjacks. These guys were in their early twenties, but they already had several years of experience. They had a contest with their announcer to see who could saw a log fastest, with him using a chainsaw while they used a two-person handsaw – and they won! They also had a log rolling contest with each other, and then one of them had a log rolling contest with their trained dog. The dog won that round - four legs balance better than two!
We got in on the tail-end of a couple of acts, such as a blacksmith and his story-telling wife, and Native Indian dancers. Around 6 pm when we were ready to leave, those beautiful Clydesdales were hitched to the Budweiser wagon and it was driven around the fair grounds. That was a nice end to the day.