No matter which state you live in, the state fair is a big deal
State Fairs have been a big deal across the United States going all the way back to the 19th century. New York was the first state to have one in 1841 and the idea grew across the country. Their purpose is almost always to promote the state’s agriculture, livestock, and unique local business. Toss in a midway, concerts, and other attractions such as horse racing, rodeos, and tractor pulls and you’ve got a combination that attracts millions of people to each venue every year.
Until last year. I’m not aware of anyone having a state fair in 2020, breaking traditions that were in many cases over 100 years old. Their return this year was heralded as a celebration of states “returning to normal” and a sign of resiliency. Then, the Delta variant hit hard just as fairs were starting to open. That meant having to make a decision. Sure, the fair was going to go on, but should people wear masks, social distance, and take other precautions?
We hadn’t planned on going this year, at least, not as a family. I usually take a day to take pictures by myself, but even that didn’t seem like the wisest idea. I wasn’t making any plans to go until the Tipster came home from school with six tickets. She was excited. Thrilled. They represented achievement on her part. Now, we had to go. The issue: she’s too young to be vaccinated. The rest of us could get by reasonably safely by wearing masks, but were we putting her at risk just by showing up? Pediatric hospitalizations are higher with this surge than they were at any time last year. We were concerned.
In the end, we opted to grab a friend and go for a short visit. By limiting the time we were there, the places we visited, and the activities pursued, in addition to wearing masks and keeping our distance when possible, we hoped to minimize any exposure. We were there three hours, stayed toward the front of the fairgrounds, spent more time with animals in low-population buildings, and kept our masks on except when eating. There’s no such thing as a trip to the fair without fair food.
Three hours was enough for the kids. They saw what they wanted to see, did what they wanted to do, and were ready to go home. I never made it to the back part of the fairgrounds or any of the demonstration areas where I normally enjoy taking pictures. Those areas are best done without small children, though, and given that the fair closes this weekend, I don’t anticipate returning.
I’ll admit to being a little sad. I wanted a lot of fair pictures for my last year before retiring. Sure, I can still take pictures any time I go, but there won’t be a portfolio to put them in, no motivation beyond my personal satisfaction. After this year, it will feel different. I’ll just be another old man with a camera.
Still, what’s important is that the kids had fun. Sure, we were almost the only ones there wearing masks. This is Indiana. No one is surprised. But no one gave us any flack for it, either. We exercised caution and managed to fill the time with new experiences for the kids and unquestionably more food than anyone needed.
The video shows our brief exploits and a few sights that couldn’t be missed. It’s not comprehensive. There’s a lot more one can see. But in the words of a fictional farmer to a fictional pig, “That’ll do.” Enjoy.