Despite the skinny pigs and the scrawny pumpkins and the scorched corn, the show must go on.
That’s the sentiment felt across the Midwest as state and county fairs are being held and planned despite the suffocating pall of the Drought of 2012.
Beyond the bovine beauty pageants and the belly-busting foods, state and county fairs have always been a mix of show-off and time-off, the harvest bringing rural folks a time to literally bring to the table what they’ve been working on all summer.
Writing in the New York Times on Sunday, reporter Monica Davey gave a good description of the annual carnivals that have lost a little color this year.
Across the nation’s middle, it is fair season — the time of year when rural life is on proud display, generations of farm families gather and deep-fried foods are guiltless.
But at county and state fairs across corn country this year, the most widespread drought since the 1950s is also evident. While the fairs are soldiering on, dousing themselves in Lemon Shake-Ups and Midwestern resolve, the hot, dry, endless summer has seeped into even the cheeriest, oldest tradition.
“You see the stress of this all on individuals everywhere you go — even the fair,” said Vivian Hallett, who most years has entries (and winners) in nearly every imaginable plant category at the Coles County Fair in Illinois. Not this year.
“We just didn’t have the stuff,” said Ms. Hallett, 65. “All our pumpkins have died. Zucchinis? Dead. Our green beans are just sitting there turning rubbery. And my gladiolas never came up at all.”
So what’s up with you? Will you be attending your state or county fair this summer? Will you be showing animals or produce? If so, how have your show stuff been affected by the drought?