The sign on the giant white van said, “America’s Best Kept Racing Secret”. I looked closer. No, it couldn't be? Or could it....? Good grief! Well this IS America. But nothing doing as yet. I’d have to be patient and check it out later.
Who needs the Olympics when you’ve got the Cattaraugus County Fair? I was volunterring at the “Ag Discovery” stall. “Ag” as in “agriculture, I guessed. I don’t know much about farming and even less about American farming, apart from commiserating about the drought and how much luckier we are here than the poor mid-west.
“That’s OK”, said my friend, “All you need do is give everyone a sticker”. I had two rolls of large, round stickers, one saying, “Refuel on Chocolate Milk” and the other “Aaah the Power of Cheese”. The idea was to nab anyone who glanced at our stall and plant a sticker on them – that way the sponsors would know we’d had loads of visitors. I had to get rid of those stickers and fast. Now, if I was strolling around the Fair minding my own business and some crazed stallholder chased after me with a sticker, I would run a mile but Americans are more amenable. Most people just loved the attention.
I spent quite a lot of time arranging and rearranging the leaflets, useful information on Points of the American Quarter Horse and How to Choose Your Bull – and putting up some sparkling electric blue bunting, which would make our stall stand out from all the others. We had to persuade Law Enforcement, who had their pitch opposite us, not to park their car marked “Sheriff” in front of our display and scare people off.
We also had an incubator containing eggs, a placard saying, “Guess when the Chicks Will Hatch and Win a Prize” and a tub full of dry corn kernels for children to dig into for plastic miniature cows.
I heard that, later in the week, crashing thunderstorms swept through and all my carefully arranged leaflets flew into the next county. But today the sun shone. It was a Monday and business wasn’t all that brisk, so I managed to skip off to Smokey Joe’s Barbecue and snag a pulled pork sandwich. Pulled pork, tender, flaky, juicy meat, is one of the things that make living in America worthwhile, especially when it’s soused in sticky barbecue sauce.
The County Fair is a big deal here. What with fairground rides and quilt exhibits and tractor pulls and pens of fancy goats and sheep shampooing stations and serious-looking farm children showing stubborn Jersey calves, it’s Western New York meets the Archers.
I wandered over to one of the rings to watch a western riding class, with girls in those fringed suede leggings called chaps, glittery shirts and rather incongruously, velvet riding caps, presumably a sop to Health and Safety.
But back to the big white van.
to be continued............