Back when I was a published writer (OK, it was the high school newspaper, but I did win 2nd in a statewide competition) I wrote a column (sort of a Blog 1.0 before the internet for you whippersnappers – now get off my lawn!) about the NC State fair. Now that I am a middle aged father of three, I thought it might be interesting to re-visit what the horny 18 year old Jimmy wrote back in the day.
It was originally my intent to transcribe parts of the column here, and then rip myself to shreds for the hack writing and triteness. I cannot even bear to do so, as it is really that painful. I started with a list of the sights and sounds from the fair. I then go on to profess my love of the fair and how it’s a ripoff, both facts that remain true, twenty three years later. Then through a series of too short sentences (a style I still employ, but to better effect now I hope), I tell of our visit to the fair and seeing Momba the gorilla girl – a fiction, if my memory serves, to fill column inches and an attempt to be clever.
The 2007 State Fair had many of the same sights and smells I remembered from the 1984 version. We overheard outside the World’s largest Horse (I think there were three different booths claiming this this year) the announcer invite all comers to “see the giant horseshoe… smell the odor – you’ll know this is a live horse”. We were obliged to tour the animal exhibits, and were disturbed by the banners hanging over the prize winning cattle as to who the purchaser was – it seems Harris Teeter is a big sponsor of the competition, as they purchased most of the cows. I am a little concerned as to what the NC Farm Bureau Insurance will be doing the cow they bought.
I guess, in looking back on the 2007 Fair versus the 1984 Fair, I’m a little sad. The years of smoky room politics that led to Strates Shows fairs for so many years meant that the fair was dirtier. The element of danger as you rode the rides was palpable, and the fair was just sleazier. I miss that. During one of my visits to the 1984 fair, the guys I was with decided that we needed to visit the girly show. Just down the midway from the freakshow tent, every 30 minutes the barker would attract a huge crowd in front of the huge stage where six or eight reasonably attractive women would come out and strut in whatever little clothing they could get away with. You would then approach said barker, purchase a ticket, and then cross the stage to enter the tent.
I was at the end of the line of friends to purchase, and as I was making the move to enter the tent, the “beauties” came out for the strut, and I was pinned. I’m stuck on the steps as the crowd behind me builds. I’m 18, doing something I CAN do but shouldn’t, and I’ve just realized that my parents were coming to the fair with a bunch of friends that night. I was convinced that I would be busted for sure.
I wasn’t, and soon discovered that they women outside on stage must have had a break coming, as the women inside taking off their clothes were not the caliber of the ones I had seen moments earlier. I do remember a woman approximately my grandmother’s age doing a dance with a hand puppet to the tune of “What’s New Pussycat”.
The 2007 Fair had hand sanitizers every 30 feet, and the 1984 Fair had shows that required them.