It’s one of my guilty pleasures.
I consider myself a stealth fair-goer. It’s all about finding those quiet spaces in the midst of all the hubbub to watch and consider and be reminded of a great number of things.
My offering for Opening Day, written back in 2008:
For millennia, this impulse to carnival!
To gather, between seasons,
honor not only the passage of time and heat,
but use it as an excuse, reason, justification
to consume and revel.
no, to aspire to
(if only for a little while)
excess and boast: I ate it ALL!
sausages glistening like drag queens flaunting
kraut boas, pickle relish rhinestones, mustard lamé
apples seeking even more beauty from a caramel masque
ice cream coupling shamelessly with fudge as the nuts watch
puffs surrendering their ivory hips to whipped cream
sugar dancing until dizzied pink
To gawk at those who dress as if asking
us to admire their inability to limit
their excesses—Momma, that man’s breasts are bigger than yours!
Here we ogle.
Here we are bodacious among the outrageous.
Here we even listen to country music.
Here it is important to believe
the hawker who preaches as if he’s speaking just to you
and you just know that his cutlery—
offered only at the State Fair with a full set of steak knives at the unbelievably one low price of $20 along with the vegetable spinner and orange juicer—
really will work as well at home on the last of the heirloom tomatoes.
Here we are fair spirited and we twirl
on the double Ferris wheel or the Mad Mouse
strapped to trust and each other.
Rich and poor.
Sound and the fragile.
He who is about to go to war and die.
She who is about to deliver a daughter and fall utterly in love.
They who will not share another evening like this together.
The cry of carnival
fits in a plastic bucket of chocolate chip cookies
slips over us like the glistening scrim of oil left in the Worlds Best French Fries cup
begs us to glide above our real lives and believe,
like the child sitting next to you at the Rabbit Race,
life will be complete
if you win the white teddy bear.
You realize what you want
along with all the other overfed pilgrims
hangs and sways
shining in syllables of orange, pink, blue and green
just out of reach.