The Appalachian Fair, Washington County TN’s end of summer celebration of children returning to schools that are too hot to inhabit is in full swing this week. The return to school dates are a hold-over from the days when children were required to help with planting, harvesting, haying, and the other tasks that kept farmers busy. This anachronistic practice is now slaved, not only to agriculture, but also to high school and college football programs. With local schools trying to match college semester and break calendars, the school years are now impacted by how many days football teams are allowed to practice before fall semesters begin.
IN most parts or the U.S. county fairs take place in late July and early August, with winners in the various competitions progressing to state fairs for further judging.
This scheduling usually results in such fairs taking place in sweltering heat and humidity. The local weather will determine whether dust or mud is the determinant ground condition. Even in devastating drought conditions bringing ankle-deep dust, there will be isolated areas of mud that result from animal care chores. Mixed with both mud and dust, the amount of manure created by the livestock exhibits is sufficient to guarantee that it will be tracked all over the fair grounds to ensure that every attendee will carry some home on their shoes, even if they did not view the animal barns.
The midway with its neon, loudspeakers, and mechanical amusements carries its own aroma. Mixed with the barnyard miasma is the airborne grease that boils off from countless deep fryers that provide the unhealthy breaded products that pass for midway food. So factor in the smells of dropped or discarded food, spilled soda, and the vomitus found beneath the carnival rides. Suddenly the animal barns don’t smell as bad.
We are bound for the fair this afternoon. We’ll take advantage of “Seniors” day to half our admission price. We’ll wander the grounds, view the beasts, look for something less noxious than the norm to provide some sort of dinner, and avoid walking near or beneath the rides.
There is a large slate of local and more widely known performers. We don’t recognize any of the listed performers and won’t be paying to attend outdoor music events. We’ll skip the monster truck races (cancelled last night due to thunderstorms), the monster truck and tractor pulls, and the demolition derbies. When one considers that this is a race week at Bristol, every trip onto the public roads is too likely to result in demolition.
The forecast for this afternoon calls for highs in the upper 80’s and a 50% chance of thunderstorms. The uniform of the day calls for shoes that can be washed if necessary upon return.