We had the Ingham County Fair recently, tucked neatly in-between roofing repairs and our last big summer amusement park tour (to be described later). We weren't able to have bunny_hugger's parents up for it, although we had plans to go with them to the Calhoun County Fair. We might have missed the Ingham County Fair altogether except bunny_hugger learned the midway operator has at least one fair-touring package with a Toboggan roller coaster, and we didn't dare miss that.
Our first surprise was that the fair's location, Rayner Park, is actually rather historic. It's got a kind of cornerstone marked 1892 AD, beside a pond, and we didn't realize there were any parks in the area which went back so far. And before we quite reached the park we saw they did indeed have the roller coaster in the area. We bought our tickets at one of the booths, then handed them immediately to the person beside the booth, and found we were to just go in without getting our hands stamped or a wristband or anything. They'd give us a wristband when we went out to the car, so that we could re-enter free.
Despite the number of animals we saw on exhibit we managed to miss, on our first pass, several of the barns so that while we saw some pigs and sheep and such we didn't see most of the pigs or goats or, especially, rabbits and chickens. But there was a petting zoo section, with very many chickens and several other animals, including goats and a rabbit who was putting up very patiently with human cubs running up to pet the back. (Generically, a rabbit probably enjoys it more if you pet the ears or head. The back is a vast swath of 'meh'.) bunny_hugger tried to pet one of the chickens, who would wait patiently for someone to approach, then squat down and duck-walk away. It'd probably been a long fair.
Among the arts and crafts on display were, besides a lot of pictures by kids, a field of Christmas Trees, some decorated ``traditionally'' and some decorated ``creatively'', with things like photocopied fifty-dollar-bills wound up in chains or with ornaments plasted over with Michigan State or University of Michigan stickers. There was also some kind of table-setting competition and a field of tables set for four people to have a Halloween dinner, so, there were a lot of fake spiders or haunted houses or rubber rats, and plates in more yellow and orange than I've seen since 1983 ended.
The fair was billed as Ingham County's 160th, and there's plaques denoting, for example, its ``more than 150 years of continuous operation''. One of the exhibits, among school craft projects, excerpted bits of histories of the fair, and the excerpts pointed out there was no evidence in any of the county papers of a fair being held from 1892 to 1896, which raises multiple questions. There was, apparently, an alternate fair held for three years in the 1920s, which if absorbed into the total Ingham County Fair count would let the fair start in 1854 and hold its 160th number in 2014, but there's still that ``continuous operation'' problem to overcome. Really, all the talk about the fair's age needed some further explanation.
Trivia: Domenico Ghirardelli travelled to San Francisco in 1849 for the Gold Rush; after lackluster business selling coffee and chocolate to prospectors in the Sierra foothills he settled in San Francisco with a coffee and confectionary shop, which burned down in 1851. Source: Chocolate Wars: The 150-Year Rivalry Between The World's Greatest Chocolate Makers, Deborah Cadbury.
Currently Reading: Conquest and Conscience: The 1840s, Robert Sobel.