I have good memories of piling into a small sedan with high school friends, minutes after the last bell rang to drive an hour over bumpy and narrow Maine roads to go to the Fryeburg Fair. It was something of an adventure and felt of freedom, as a teen exploring the possibility of dating (he was driving) and the exhilaration of being out with friends. I think we scrounged a few dollars among us to get some fried dough and go on a couple of rides on the midway. I remember it being cold and we were all in sweaters and I think the maybe-boyfriend put his arm around me. Maybe I even remember wearing his hockey jacket. The trees were brilliant in amber, gold and crimson. It got dark and we had to get back home, and romantic tension crackled even more, back on those pitted roads. It was a school night and we were obedient kids who were only seeking the simplest of thrills.
Remembering this, I thought that taking my family to the Fryeburg Fair might hold some of the same magic. I don't know why exactly I thought this, as neither of the kids are dating and also, we're not their dates. Plus they have different experiences, different ways of being in the world. Sometimes, I mess up.
At the very least, I thought it would be fun. So recently on one cool, bright autumn day, we went.
I won't lie; it wasn't a resounding success. Keep in mind, our kids only know one Maine fair-The Common Ground Country Fair. There is no midway, the food is organic, it's a clean-air event (no smoking) and yes, it tends to sway heavily to the left, politically. It's just about perfect in every way for our family.
The kids are reading this story about raising goats.
This fair, however? Well, we tried to like it. The animals were cute as always, and we even recognized some of the same farmers and food vendors, as the Fryeburg Fair is an agricultural fair (and Maine's largest fair). The day was absolutely perfect for it. Most of the food smelled wonderful and tasted just fine. The sights and sounds of the people and midway, however, were slightly overwhelming. While I might still be enticed to go on a ride, it just isn't anything either Adam or Olivia are interested in doing, and that's okay. And it was easy to avoid the temptation to buy anything, as we're not in need (nor would we desire) t-shirts promoting racism and segregation (why some corners of Maine embrace the Confederate flag is something I will never understand-we saw these rebel t-shirts. Gross.) Neither do we desire to partake in any sort of cultural appropriation and fill our home with fake Native American imagery.
But. We did have delicious, huge, glazed donuts. And maple sugar cotton candy. And we met more fun goats. We saw a completely different side of Maine, like it or not. And we did laugh, a lot. And the day and night was perfectly autumn. So that's something.