Week of July 26: the Cecil County fair, up in Elkton. Admission to this one is only $2 for seniors, and that's 60+ so that we both count as seniors, so we didn't bother aiming for Senior Day, though if we had, according to the schedule, there would have been several hours of senior-specific things going on. We went on Wednesday. This fair opens to the public at 9, but several of the shows aren't until afternoon, so we aimed for getting there at noon, as with last week. This is our longest drive, 75 miles to get there, and thanks to roadwork and random traffic, it took us nearly 2 hours, so we actually got there at 12:30. This was instantly, obviously, a better-run fair than Washington County; they had guys directing parking, and marked handicapped spaces, and an actual front gate with cheery young people staffing the admissions kiosks. We asked about food, and the young lady pointed us toward it. The midway wasn't open at this one either - according to the website http://www.cecilcountyfair.org/ it opens at 5. So no fair food here, either - the Lions Club has their own little permanent building and they were serving lunch, a limited menu but the fair special of "Chicken Fingers and Freedom Fries" was quite reasonably priced and lots of food, and despite the silly name, the french fries were good. They have a picnic table area in the shade. The food area has wi-fi - of /course/ it does; there were several people with their laptops, who appeared to be exhibitors (you can sort of tell them - the uniform of shorts and well-worn tall boots tells you who's mucking out stalls.)
After lunch we started walking around - this is still a small fairgrounds, compared to some, but they have enough permanent buildings to put on a good show. We went through the commercial building first, which was pretty dead in the water except for a Tupperware lady and a Bible Association; all the other booths were unstaffed. There was an additional tent with more vendors out back of that, nothing I wanted to buy, and 2 whole booths taken up by a Baptist church - even though we didn't meet anybody's eye, they still started calling out to us. Anyway - Home Arts, small but larger than Washington County. Several quilts, some crocheted items, lots of sewing, and lots of canning - three multi-shelved stands full of jams and pickled veggies and corn relish and so on, very attractive. Lots of kids' art. Decent array of baked goods, though since the building isn't air conditioned some things were sagging. Lots of fans - the temperature was comfortable enough in the shade, and they did not stint on the fans anywhere. Next building over rabbits and pigs. A very few pigs - not a great swine turnout. There were probably as many rabbits as at Washington, but they were poorly caged and poorly labeled; I felt quite sorry for the poor buns; they didn't have enough space or enough ventilation, and a lot of them weren't even labelled by breed. Then on to Poultry, of which there was a decent assortment, a few turkeys and quite a few varieties of chickens. Not as wide a variety as Montgomery County (more later on that) but still a decent variety for a small show, including some of the really silly ones where it's difficult to tell that it's a bird, let alone what species of bird it might be. Onward: goats, and more goats. A few sheep, lots of goats. In fact, the goats took over one of the horse barns as well. Goats like Larry; we always have goats trying to stick their faces up into Larry's face. A couple of cow barns.
By then it was getting warmish; we didn't slog all the way over to the other horse barn, the big one, because it was set off from the
rest, and besides, it was almost time for the afternoon entertainment to start. That's right, real scheduled entertainment, during the day! (The night-time entertainment Wednesday night would be a rodeo; we weren't going to stay for it, but it's apparently a big deal there, and people come specifically for that.) First up, Skybound Canine Entertainment - trained dogs catching discs and jumping through hoops - well, sort of trained: these are all rescue dogs, and part of the point of the show is to show how much you can do in the way of training and playing with even an older dog. The fanciest part of the show was the dock-diving: they had several dogs doing dives into a large pool, and a mini-Australian-Shepherd name of Ray-Ray did a 21 foot dive into the pool. Ray-Ray truly loves his job. A few seconds watching the chainsaw-wood-carving guy (the carvings weren't for sale during the day, but were being auctioned and raffled off at night.) Then over to the Kachunga Alligator Show. Yes, real alligators. No, one can't teach an alligator to do tricks. It's mostly an educational thing; the guy sits on an 8-foot alligator and opens its mouth and explains the teeth, and the alligator's various water adaptations (did you know that alligators can hold their breath for up to an hour?) and then after dragging the alligator around by the tail, he let it go back in its shaded cubby, and brought out 2 baby alligators, and invited all the kids in the audience to come have their pictures taken holding a real live alligator. I found it educational; Larry hadn't though it would be real alligators, so he was surprised. Then, after a few minutes' break, a magic show - nice enough, though the fancy showgirls painted on the sidings were in reality one young man assistant dressed in black. The neatest trick, to me, was turning a white dove into a much larger white rabbit into a full-size white standard poodle. The magician did have each of them wave to us before turning them into something else. He asked for a child volunteer from the audience to help on one trick, but the 2-year-old who volunteered wasn't quite up to the task. Part of the problem was that we were all sitting in the upper bleachers in the shade, rather than the bleachers closer to the stage but out in the direct sunlight. That made it difficult to talk people into things. And it /was/ getting hotter. So, at that point the Young Farmers had opened up their ice cream booth, and we went over and had ice cream, and then headed home, having spent almost 3 and a half hours there.
Verdict? A bit of a long drive for us, but the cheap price of admission, plus the vast improvement in most things over the Washington County fair, made us feel that we did get our money's worth at the Cecil County fair. And if it wasn't so hot and Larry didn't have to work Thursday, staying for the rodeo (included in the price of admission!) might well have been fun.