Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Grange Fair

Originally uploaded by JugglingScarves.
Went to Grange Fair this weekend. This fair is (I'm told) unique in the country. It's the only one left where people camp on the fairgrounds all week. A tent city pops up the day before the fair starts, and stays up into the Thursday of the following week.

Once you have been assigned a plot at the Grange Fair, it belongs to your family until someone decides to give it back. They get passed down in wills, they become a bone of contention in divorce settlements...this camping-at-the-fair thing is a great big deal. If you're locally born, that is. Outsiders (like me) just don't get the appeal. But I digress.

There's a waiting list a mile long for people who want plots. I don't think these plots can be sold, but they can be loaned out to people for one year at a time. Apparently, if you leave the tent completely unoccupied for one fair, your plot is forfeited and given to someone else. I don't think this happens often.

I spent the whole day there this past Saturday. I went with friends who have one of these tents. I can't imagine staying there for a whole week, unless I had animals to tend. That's where the tradition originated, back when long-distance transportation took a lot longer than it does now. Farmers had to stay on-site, because it wasn't feasible to ride back and forth from home to fairgrounds. It was also quite a social occasion. Again, because of transportation difficulties, it was sometimes the only week out of the year that families and friends living on opposite ends of the county got to see each other. A lot of family reunions are still held during Grange Fair.

It's not just about animals, produce, and handicrafts, either. There's a midway full of games, rides, and food stalls. There are performances in the grandstand and on the midway all week --concerts, tractor pulls, dance exhibitions, you name it.

1 comment:

G said...

Great - this kind of event is one of the best things left in life, and that's not pitching it too strong. Long may it flourish.

Round here we have agricultural shows, an annual Wood Fair (coming up 9/10 September), various club meets on the showground through the summer - they all work more or less as you describe, and we would be poorer without them.