The Pharmacy Chick

Flying the coup in retail

Of Funnel Cakes and Bratwurst.

Filed under: Uncategorized — pharmacychick at 11:16 pm on Saturday, August 30, 2008

The advancement of the calendar into late August means different things to different people. To the parents of children, its a celebration that soon they will return to school.  To these kids, its mourning that same fact. 

Pharmacy Chick’s pharmacy is at the tail end of its Dog Days.  Once school starts, the business regains the momentum it lost during the summer.  My vacations are over and once again the flu season looms, along with all the extra work with vaccinations. 

However, not all the rites of summer are over.  For this Chick, late summer means Fair season. County fairs, State Fairs, I don’t care, bring ’em on.  I cannot say what it is about the fair that draws me to them but I can tell you this: it brings me back to a simpler time in my life.

When Pharmacy chick was a mere kid, the state fair was in our home town every year, and we went several days over its 10 day run.  Held in late July, we could count on unbearably hot dusty days, an occasional thunderstorm to cool things down, a miraculous drying out after the rain, then fun in the evening at the fair.  My parents would buy weekly passes to all the concerts ( usually county music has-beens), and my brother and I would have free reign of the fair grounds provided we were at the appointed place when it was time to go home.  Every year we’d get fresh squeezed lemonade at the same stand where a half dozen teenagers were squashing lemons as fast as they could.  We’d also get a free yard stick from a local insurance company.  Brother loved the rides,  the Chick, not so much.  I loved the exhibits (and still do).  I could get lost in the crafts building. Because I did handwork, I appreciated the hard work.  I also loved the merchantile building.  Selling everything from Ginsu Knives to find-your-own-pearls, I always enjoyed seeing what I could get for free. We didn’t get much money to spend so “free” was what we were after.

Fast forward 30 years.  I still love the fair, but the culture has changed.  The livestock barns used to be literally bursting with cows, pigs, goats, sheep, rabbits, ducks, chickens, horses, with a few exotics just for show.  We’d wander up and down looking at cow butts, admiring the Budweiser Clydesdales (they are beyond big), watch the piglets play while the sow sleeps.  Now, the barns are half full at best.  I guess its a hassle and a big commitment for farmers and ranchers to bring animals to the fair. It just may not be worth it for them anymore. 

In my youth, the kids wandering around the fair grounds tended to be pretty tame.   You could tell the city kids from the rancher’s kids pretty easy:  rancher kids wore Wranglers, cowboy boots, and plaid shirts with pearl buttons,  city kids wore Levi 501’s, sneakers and T-shirts.  Today things look a tad different.  For one thing, our trend towards obesity is never more evident than at the fair.  Perhaps I missed the “Fat people get in free today” sign, I dunno. 

 We came onto the fair grounds at the Carnival entrance-It looked like the trailer trash party scene.  I don’t know where to begin: I have never seen so many tatoos and body piercings in one location in my life.  Grossly obese people zooming about on scooters almost ran over my toes.  The Carnies didnt even try to get me to play their games. They just stood around looking bored, waiting for their next victim, er customer. Not being interested in the rides, we just skated on thru.

I made my usual rounds: looking at cow butts, the big horses, the cute bunnies, the craft building and then the food.

Oh, the food.  Mr Chick loves the ice cream.  Its the same ice cream he could buy in the store, but somehow it tastes different when purchased off the back of a trailer and handed to him by cute (but sweaty) high school girls.  He also likes the philly cheese steak standwiches.  Mrs Chick, on the other hand has her own agenda.  Bring on the funnel cakes and Bratwurst.  Too much work to make myself, funnel cakes are a wonderful treat of fried batter sprinkled with powdered sugar.  I cannot imagine the calorie count of the cake I ate that filled an entire plate.  Before the cake, I had a spicy brat with mustard and sauerkraut that couldn’t be beat.

Yea, I guess they do taste better off the back of a truck.

I hope the fair never passes into Americana History. The buildings are old, there is much discussion about who has to pay to keep them up.  They lose money every year.  Attendance is flat. Lots of reasons….

So. Go the the fair, look at the bunnies,Eat some fattening food, buy a Ginsu knife, Get a henna tattoo and talk to the vendor who sells the habanero jerky. Then, go back to work and tell all your friends what a great time you had.




Comment by Karen H

September 4, 2008 @ 9:38 pm

Ahhh. A corndog (freshly dipped and fried) with a hint of mustard painted down the side, and mini-donuts, warm from the fryer with chocolate frosting on some and cinnamon/sugar on the others. gotta love it!


Comment by Shalom (R.Ph.)

September 7, 2008 @ 9:50 am

Sounds like the Erie County Fair that I used to go to at the Hamburg Racetrack, just south of Buffalo, NY. They had all that you mention above, plus pig races, plus the demolition derby wherein people get to dispose of old cars by banging them into each other until they stop moving. (The night I was there it was a 1966 Cadillac that won, not surprisingly as it was probably the heaviest car in the state.) Big dairy area that, so naturally there was an entire barn full of cows on exhibit. Funny thing I saw there, a farmer was trying to bring a cow to the milking parlor, and halfway there she decided she wasn’t going. This poor guy was schlepping on the rope with all his strength, and the cow was like “No. I’m on strike. Go milk someone else.” and since she weighed seven times what he did, he wasn’t getting very far… Oh, and I got to find out that skunk fur is the softest I’ve ever felt. (No live skunks, but the crafts building had a furrier, with samples tacked to his table.)

So I don’t live in Buffalo any more, and I hear that the State Fair, so called, is coming to the Meadowlands Arena parking lot. Cool, say I, I get to see the award winning pumpkins and so forth, which I haven’t seen in years. So I get there, and find that there’s nothing there but the carnival. No crafts, no flea market, no cows, no agricultural exhibits at all, which I thought was the whole point. How can they even call this thing a state fair? (OK, the pig races they did have…) I have to find somewhere near here that does have an agricultural fair, my wife’s never seen one.

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