A Photographer Travels To A County Fair

There is something rustic about a county fair that reminds us of simpler times. [Click photos for larger versions]
There is something rustic about a county fair that reminds us of simpler times. [Click photos for larger versions]
Young people do most of the day-to-day work at many Virginia farms, and definitely at county fairs.
Young people do most of the day-to-day work at many Virginia farms, and definitely at county fairs.
A young man gives his cow a bath before parading it before the judges.
A young man gives his cow a bath before parading it before the judges.
Raising these beautiful animals to be part of our food supply is not something everyone can emotionally handle.
Raising these beautiful animals to be part of our food supply is not something everyone can emotionally handle.
Visiting a county fair has to be one the best known ways of reverting back to an earlier stage in your life.
Visiting a county fair has to be one the best known ways of reverting back to an earlier stage in your life.
You thought you didn't want one until you saw them, but first you must prove your skills at throwing something.
You thought you didn’t want one until you saw them, but first you must prove your skills at throwing something.

Some things never change, and that’s OK with me. Don’t get me wrong, I pretty much love every convenience this modern world has to offer, specially if it makes everyday life a little easier to bear. But even when modernity rules the day in the cities, I can’t help but find it refreshing to know that some things out there in the “real world” don’t ever change much. In America we may not have the incredible ancient ruins you will find all over Europe, but one thing we have over all those Europeans is a good, old-fashioned county fair. Not sure whether it is just nostalgia or something a bit deeper than that, but for this humble photographer, a country-flavored county fair just does the trick every time. Cattle, chickens, pigs, sheep, you name it and I want to see it all. Thick, fluffy corndogs, cotton candy, and pulled-pork sandwiches? Can I get an Aaamen?

However, no matter how much some of us love these county fairs, the sad reality is that for most city folks, their existence doesn’t even register on their life radars. I mentioned the ongoing Loudon County Fair to some folks recently and their reaction was tantamount to me offering them to join me for Typhus injections. They’ve all been to them, but that was back then, way back then. After all, are they not primarily for children? Well, yes and no, even if for most grownups it does bring out the inner child in them. And who would like to ride on an old, clunky ferris wheel when you can go ride air conditioned gondolas on a mega-structure like the London Eye? Well, call me sentimental, but yours truly does.

Above all, I really like the people I meet at a county fair. Hard-working, approachable folks who are an incredible source of information about anything having to do with raising farm animals and bringing them to market. And they put their children to work, big time. No cell phones or video games for these kids when work needs to be done, and there’s never a shortage of work at a farm. After several hours of conversation, education, and stuffing my face with things my doctor would cringe at, I found the whole thing to be quite a welcomed break from the city-sleeker habitat I call home these days. Better? Not necessarily, but it really felt good to get some “mud on my boots” for a change.