Monday, September 24, 2007

Fair to middling.

The Utah State Fair...

...ya got yer happy porkers,...

...ya got yer funky chickens,...

...and ya got yer agoraphobic sheep.

The geese perform an interpretive dance. "Love."

The ducks plot their escape.

Choose an exciting new hybrid: the wall-eyed goat-cow. Extra easy tipping!

You saw it here first, folks: the best d*** patch of sod this side of Wyoming!


A less-known symptom of trichinosis.

"Heeeey, kid! Throw your Twinkie wrapper in my happy happy clown mouth!"*

(Okay, so actually the clown garbage cans were last year. This year they were American flags. Does anyone else find this ironic? Depressing? Especially given that the first thing you encounter upon entering the main fair gate is an army recruiting booth?)

As I was pondering this annual ritual, I remembered the fair I attended years ago in England, on the grounds of the Queen's country estate at Sandringham. As the Utah State Fair is largely a kitsch-fest, I felt this posting could only benefit from some comparisons to the fairs of Old World royalty.

English fair ambiance:

Grand and tasteful gardens, lending a dignity to the proceedings. Honey, cheeses, and flowers sold under simple white tents.

Utah State Fair ambiance:

Crowded buildings full of animals, scantily clad chainsmokers, and "people" in camo and wifebeaters running personality analysis machines that determine your lucky lotto number based on a handwriting sample. Snake oil available upon request.

English fair arts and crafts:

Softspoken, friendly man named Stewart** weaving beautiful baskets.

Utah State Fair arts and crafts:

White wax hand molds, artistically garnished with plastic roses. State-of-the-art fake hair.

English fair celebrity sighting.

The elegantly dressed Queen Mum in a lovely veiled summer hat. The dapper Prince Charles in a double-breasted suit, strolling with his umbrella walking cane.

Utah State Fair celebrity sighting:

Weird Al in a karate outfit, riffing on his accordion.***

I know it's a tad depressing, dear countrymen. But gird up your loins and go drown your sorrows in a nice deep-fried Coke -- it's what makes America great!

* Photo copyright Sharon, 2006.

** I was kind of in love with Stewart. I hoped Prince Charles would knight him right there at the basket booth and we could ride away together.

*** If any Weird Al legal goons wander onto this site, please consider the following before you shut down this video clip.
1) The shaky recording quality, which also indicates...
2) That I have palsy. What kind of monster would bully a poor girl with early-onset palsy?
3) No one reads this blog anyway.
However, if you still feel it your duty to pull my video off the web, just ask nicely and I'll go without a fight, though I may haggle for an autographed glossy of Harvey the Wonder Hamster.


AzĂșcar said...

This post made me laugh so hard. Those names! THOSE NAMES!

I think agoraphobic sheep are my new favorites.

wynne said...

"Pork checkoff at work." Hmm. I did notice that it was copyrighted...but what does it mean?

And how in the world do you deep-fry a coke? It's a liquid, for heaven's sake.

And when did you go to England, Marie? I am jealous of that, you know. Good for you.

lenalou said...

*smiles with slightly condescending air at cultural differences*

BTW, Dave Barry would probably say that "the agoraphobic sheep" would be a great anme for a rock band.

I must say that the English fair appears to be missing my favourite fete game - where you attempt to encircle bottles of fizzy lemonade with rings on string on the end of long poles. I was good at that game.

RC Cola! said...

Those names had me rolling as well. My goodness!

Makes me sad I missed the fair this year. :(

Marie said...

Azucar -- Thanks for laughing! That sheep is a crackup -- so dignified, and yet so phobic. I wanted to hug him and tell him it was going to be okay.

Wynne -- I'm thinking maybe they check your lunchbox when you arrive at work and if there are no pork products in there, they issue a pink slip? As for the deep-fried Coke, click on the image and read the fine print at the bottom. It will all become clear. (Clearly nasty.)

I went to England for 6 weeks the summer after I graduated from high school. I'd been saving $ that year to go on an expensive choir trip to DC with my school choir, but when my half-British buddy said she wanted me to stay with her at her aunt and uncle's in England that summer, I knew God wanted me to abandon the stupid choir trip and use that money (plus my graduation money) to visit the Brits instead. It was a very extravagant trip for someone from my background, so it remains etched in my memory in way more detail than you'd expect after 13 years. And the choir didn't miss me -- second altos are purely optional.

Lena -- Smile away. If we Yanks can't laugh at ourselves, we got nothin'. (Besides the most powerful military in the world, of course, but we'd trade it all for some cultural cred!) That game sounds fun...if you're good at that sort of thing. I'm not. Plus, at the State Fair, the carnival game prizes now include framed shots of Playboy Bunnies. Seriously. I can't support that sort of smut.

I think Dave Barry already has a rock band -- with Stephen King and Amy Tan -- I should send him "Agoraphobic Sheep." As I recall, his band has some boring literary name, like the Inklings or something.

RC -- Don't be sad. The Fair is only fun in retrospect, and only if heavily edited. At the time I kept thinking, "Oh my word -- I live in Babylon, and we're headed off the cliff! Should I scream now, or wait for the End?"

Anna Maria Junus said...

I guess regular Coke just isn't dangerous enough.

Sarita said...

Oh Marie, Marie. I clearly need to know you more than vaguely in real life. Where were you when I went to the fair last year?

The interpretive dance? The sheep? The ducks plotting their escape? Genius.

Marie said...

I saw your name on a comment at Azucars blog. I always like to find others with my same name. We also get Ms. Dancing with the Star, Marie! Our name is famous. I hope she does us proud!

We missed the Fair this year, great pics!

sophie said...


I shouldn't have left Utah. Dagnabit.

Dave Barry's band is The Rock Bottom Remainders. Less literary than publishing-geek.

Marie said...

Marie -- It is unusual to run into people with our name -- I was in a ward recently where there were three Maries, and it really messed with my head :) As for Marie Osmond, when I was 2 years old my mother tells me I was in love with Donny Osmond because his sister was named Marie. I don't get the logic, but never question a two-year-old. Thanks for reading!

Sophie -- Surely you wouldn't wish to witness your bubbly lifeblood reduced to a freakshow side dish? I'm keeping an emergency can in the fridge at all times in case you drop by. Just thought you'd want to know.