Friday, October 15, 2010

Poetry Friday -- The Fairfield County Fair

The Fairfield County Fair is always the last county fair of the year in Ohio. That's where I'll be today on our day off.


It is a fall harvest fair,
not a heat and humidity of summer fair.

It's the round barn against the October sky (maybe blue, maybe rainy),
betting on the harness racing until we run out of money or races,
4-H exhibits
baked goods
collections of who knows what or why
mullets and guts 
and snotty-nosed kids running wild clutching carnival prizes.

We buy maple syrup and homemade sorghum molasses 
to last the winter.

The smell of peanut shells on our hands
brings curious velvet horse noses out of stalls to snuffle.
We touch oily sheep backs 
wonder at the odd slit-eyes of goats
pick out the craziest chicken breed.

I always fall asleep in the car
on the way home.

by Ron Padgett

The Holstein looks at us with big eyes but with no expression
in them. What images are flashing in its brain? The white goat
walks over as if to ask a question, but it has no question to ask:
there is no question mark in the goat world. The rabbit's pink
eyes dilate when a hand draws near, but it does not move, and
like a horseshoe, it says nothing. The two holes in the top of the
goose's beak are in search of something to get huffy about: the
poor goose is angry and without real nostrils.

(the rest of the poem is at The Writer's Almanac)

Liz has the Poetry Friday roundup today at Liz in Ink.


  1. What an excellent way to spend an October day! I wish I was buying a supply of Maple Syrup to last the winter...

  2. Such great images! Have fun!

  3. Actually, Toby, you probably DON'T wish to be's raining. That will not stop us from going; the tradition runs too deep. But it will be a soggy muddy year, not a clear blue sky crisp air year. Oh, well. We love them all.

  4. Mary Lee -- have fun and wear your galoshes! I love the line, "There is no question mark in the goat world."

  5. Anonymous9:30 AM

    Oh, happy day!!! I love the fair. Have some cotton candy!

  6. Have fun despite the rain. Pigs with white eyebrows?

    Great images in your poem, love the velvet horse noses snuffling. :)

  7. The sun is out, the new stove and DW have been delivered...the day is shaping up to be a GOOD day!

  8. Even in the rain, the fair will be wonderful.

    I love your poem, and can see the fair unfolding in front of me thanks to your wonderful imagery. I can almost smell the peanuts.

  9. Anonymous10:54 PM

    How fun...the maple syrup and the falling asleep on the way home. Such great pictures for the mind.

  10. Mary Lee,

    I hope you had a good time at the fair. I haven't been to one in many years--but I can still remember the sights, sounds, smells.

    I love October here in New England. Not many leaves have changed yet where I live.

  11. Hi, Mary Lee--

    I had a day off too, but no fair to go to--I left the rest of the family and spent two days with my parents (!) at their house out toward Rehoboth Beach in Delaware--a silent bike ride in the wind and sun along water's edge was refreshing in so many ways.

    Your poem reminds me of the fair chapter in Charlotte's Web, and of my own visits to the Virginia State Fair; Ron Padgett's poem makes me unusually glad to be a human bean and not a beast, although I usually identify happily with animals.

    Looking forward to seeing you at NCTE! (Also wondering if you have a hotel room to share...)

  12. "The smell of peanut shells on our hands
    brings curious velvet horse noses out of stalls to snuffle."

    Love the imagery, Mary Lee. I know what you mean about needing a day off-boy, this has already been a tough year.
    I'm glad you had some fun!

  13. Oh, I love the fair! And you make me love it even more with all of these line-by-line sketches of it. We always go to one of those hot summer ones, but maybe this year I'll scout out a fall one in your honor!

  14. Great details, Mary Lee!

    betting on the harness racing until we run out of money or races

    and the snotty nose kids clutching their prizes...

    Boy, those brought the scene to life for me.


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