Or, “What I Did On My Summer Vacation”.
Which may seem anomalous to those of you who think we are on a permanent vacation. But yeah, I took a vacation to visits family and friends in upstate New York for three weeks.
The local county fair takes place in my home town of Walton, NY every year and it’s kind of a big deal in them thar’ parts. I remember baking brownies to enter in the Grange baking contest and winning a ribbon (using my grandma’s name because I was too young). When they were kids, my nephews Jason and Justin raised cows on a neighbor’s farm and showed them in the 4-H ring.
Jason is now a grown-up responsible adult on the fair board, helping to plan and run the whole shebang; his sister Jaime brings her kids up from Virginia to visit the grandparents and attend the fair; my other nephew Joe ran a car in the demolition derby for several years; and my little cousins’ kids are showing animals.
So yeah, the fair is a big deal and I timed my vacation/family visit to coincide with both the fair and sweet corn season. Just before leaving, I saw a facebook post asking for people to join the fair ticket team and I figured “Why the heck not? A couple hours for 3-4 days, it could be fun.”
I did get the job, it turned into a nearly full-time week. I worked at the gates collecting entry tickets and searching bags and backpacks. Apparently it’s a Homeland Security thing – any event of over a certain number of attendees has to have a bag search. I had no idea diaper bags could hold so much. Some of them were packed so full, I expected stuff to spring out like a jack-in-the-box.
It was a minimum wage engagement (the joke is I earned John’s beer money for a month), required much standing on tired feet and constant good humor dealing with the public some of whom expressed displeasure while we pawed through their personal belongings. All those years of trade shows and dealing with surly customers prepared me well for my fair gig.
In between my work shifts, I had time to wander around the grounds, and one day got to catch a pig show. Horse and cow shows are fairly tame – horses are trained, cows are on leads – but the pig shows are a free-for-all. The demolition derby of the 4-H world. Grunter-moil. Pig-demonium. Each handler has a stick that he or she is supposed to use to control the pigs and keep them somewhat orderly, but pigs fight. So in addition to the porkers, their handlers, and the judge, the show ring chaos includes a few adults with boards to separate the porcine pugilists.
And of course, the best part – every day I got to choose a different fair food for lunch. Fair. Food. Every. Day. Hog heaven. Coincidentally, I enjoyed (somewhat guiltily) a pulled pork BBQ baked potato during the swine-fest.
When I showed the above photo to my Mexican Spanish teacher, he didn’t believe it was true.
The rest of my time in NY was spent visiting family and friends, shopping for those things we can’t find here (Kraft Mayo made with olive oil, New York State 6-year aged cheddar cheese) and laughing inwardly when people complained about the heat (while I pictured the tropics and barely broke a sweat).
One day we met at my mom’s friend’s house for cucumber margaritas. A couple months ago I posted a photo of these delectable treats and ‘the posse’ (as I call my mom’s group of friends) decided I should whip some up during my visit. Even without a beach, they made a pleasant way to spend a Tuesday afternoon.
And did I mention the sweet corn? And clams? And freshly dug red potatoes? All drenched in butter? Yes, I love upstate NY in the summer. And of course, getting to see my mom, brothers and sisters-in-law, cousins, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews – the time flew by.
And then…..suddenly it was time to return to Nakamal, begin tropical storm watch in earnest and start working off the fair food/butter weight gain.