Fair Booth Notes

by Bruce McEwen, September 21, 2011

The crowd at this weekend's County Fair picked up around three in the afternoon on Friday as the sun edged its way into the booth. The morning and early afternoon it had been quiet, slow and steady. But by 3 there were more people and the sun was getting hot. Lots of kids, most with their parents but many in packs or pairs, some roaming singly. Baby carriages for twins and triplets or even older siblings riding with baby, hanging on the back or the sides.

The AV Brewing Company's booth just around the corner was heating up along with the temperature and more beer drinkers came by. The majority of passersby were overweight, lugging huge paper troughs of curly fries, two foot-long corn dogs and buckets full of miscellaneous negative food value items.

Alexa and Mike told me how Mike Sweeney misbehaved toward one of their neighbors in Ukiah — apparently a guy in a wheelchair, a quadriplegic, got his garbage cans set out late so Sweeney kicked them down into the canyon. Great guy. “The guy's in a wheelchair and Sweeney kicks his cans into the canyon!” they complained.

Former Fifth District Supes candidate Wendy Roberts came by and left some Master Gardener brochures. A local firefighter gal stopped in to say “Thanks for the ink about the Ice Cream Social last week.” A guy from Point Arena wanted the back issue with the Art Goddess article because, he said, it sold out on the south coast quickly and everybody who wanted one didn't get one. The daughter of the late Homer Mannix, former Editor of the newspaper, said she's become allergic to newsprint now.

A guy named Riley from The City came by. He comes up every year for the Fair. He's a long-time subscriber and says his apartment building has 30 units and he's the only one who reads any newspaper. The others don't read anything.

On Saturday the crowd became more bizarre, every imaginable configuration of human being passed by. Some totally defied the most audacious imagination. Take for instance this old broad in Mexican skintight Lycra, gypsy shawl crepe, hot pink, and a mantilla, an honest to God mantilla, from 18th Century Spain. And here's a couple from Atlanta, Georgia. “Are you radical?” they asked. As rad as they come around these parts, I assured them. “You're all radicals, really radicals. We want to move out here. How much is land?” "Well, there's a fixer upper on Anderson Valley Way, five acres, close in but not too close.” “How much?” “Eight.” “Eight million?” “Eight hundred.” "May as well be eight million. Are people around here crazy?” “Yes.” "Nothing new there. Maybe we'll just stay in Atlanta.”

As the afternoon sun heated up I put an awning up across the way. Shady benches were taken up by young families in the lee of the 4-H and FFA building. A girl came to her mother pleading for money. “I have to have money for the gut wrencher otherwise Millicent will make me look like a sissy.” “No,” Mom said. “I don't put any faith in your friend Millicent's discretion. Just sit here with us and have something to eat. I remember when I was your age and I came to the Fair and I thought if I didn't go up on the vomit inducer, that Milicent's mother would surely get your father's attention and break my heart right into.""Well,” said the adolescent, “my heart is breaking right this minute because Millie is getting the love of my life.”

These and similar lamentations echoed from the shady benches across the way as the crowds strolled by.

A trio of eight-year-olds went by, one saying, “Donde esta me novia. Aqusta, el!”

A child of maybe six went by with a toy AK-47 indiscriminately mowing down fairgoers. I grinned and he sprayed me with a burst from his gun.

A guy came by to renew his subscription and ask about the editor's health. I gave him the uncomfortable, but somewhat promising news and suggested a refund if the old man dies. “Throw it in his grave in that case,” he said.

A passerby whispered to me that Berna Walker got a well-deserved award for her long service to the fair.

A young woman went with me to the rodeo while Steve Sparks covered booth duties in the afternoon. By all reports we made a sensational couple, the young woman and I — not Sparks and I.

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