Summer. Fair. Those two word go together like peanut butter and jelly. Bread and butter. Cake and ice cream. When I was a kid we would go to the Oregon State Fair every summer. And, my parents lucked out every summer. Why? Because they managed to be parents of children who didn’t like rides. Crazy but true. I can only imagine how much money they saved over the span of our childhood by not having to pay for carnival rides.
When we entered the fairgrounds there was only stop made in the ride/game section: the coin toss. Toss a dime into glassware, take the glassware home. It was an entire display of stacked and balanced glasses and small plates and…well…I think there may have even been ashtrays. We had a cupboard full of cartoon and beer brand glasses from the fair. There may still be some lingering in the recesses of Dad & Mom’s kitchen cupboards. I wonder if they still have the coin toss at the state fair….?….because I’m feeling nostalgic for a Spuds MacKenzie Bud Light glass. I’ll bet I could find one on Amazon.
After zipping through the carnival section we would slow and cover every other inch of that fair. We saw all of the animals, we were dazzled by the commercial buildings (magic shammy? Combination mop-broom-vacuum? Slicer/dicer/chopper/food dehydrator? Yes, please!) and we looked at every flower and homemade item lovingly made and entered into that fair. Then there was the food. There was (and is) one stand out item at the Oregon State Fair: the Dairymaid ice cream stand. These days Dairymaid is probably politically incorrect and it goes by something else, but I will always refer to it as Dairymaid. The soft serve ice cream was served in a simple cake-style cone. They swirled and twirled that ice cream onto that cone into a towering confection of perfection. It was magnificent. I’m sure there was other food. And I’m quite positive I begged for cotton candy on an annual basis. But, it’s the ice cream that stands out in my memory.
We would spend the entire day exploring every nook and cranny of that fairground. I remember blurrily tromping back to the car, well after dark, exhausted and sticky, from both heat and sugar. The 2 hour drive home flew by as I passed out as soon as the car door would click shut.
Ahhhhh….the good old days.
I cannot hear the word “fair” without singing the Templeton the Rat song. You remember Templeton, right? The rat from Charlotte’s web. Who sang, with the assistance of Gwen the Goose:
A fair is a veritable smorgasbord, orgasbord, orgasbord
After the gates are shut
Each night when the lights go out
It can be found on the ground all around
That’s where a rat can glut, glut, glut, glut!
You go, Templeton!
We have two fairs in close proximity to our home: the Thurston County Fair and the Puyallup Fair (which has been renamed the Washington State Fair, but no one calls it the Washington State Fair…we all still call it the Puyallup). The Thurston County Fair is right here in town. It’s itty bitty. A fair that we may stop by on a weeknight for a quick walk-around and some junk food. There is a decent-sized photography exhibit that I have entered photos into in the past. And I entered a dinner plate sized dahlia a few years ago and won a big, fat ribbon.
The Puyallup, on the other hand, is a big fair. A fair that you do when you have a number of hours. I am happy to report that, though they do not have the Oregon Dairymaids, they do have the Wilcox Dairy, from whom you can buy soft-serve ice cream and they give away small samples of chocolate milk (yum!). The Puyallup also has Fisher Scones, which I had never heard of until coming to Washington. Like Starbucks in a typical WA city, there is a Fisher scone stand on nearly every corner of the fair. If you the wrong stand you could end up cooling your jets in line for a very long time. However, I have identified a couple of off-the-beaten path booths that don’t get nearly the traffic as others. I’m not normally much of a scone person. They’re a dry biscuit, right? Usually with sub-standard jam. And I’m a jam snob, having been long spoiled by homemade. But, there is something about the Fisher scone with their “house” raspberry jam that just floats my boat. And they reheat really well in the microwave (7 seconds).
Like the fair of my childhood, the husband and I skip the carnival section. We spend our time in the exhibits and commercial buildings, with a cursory look at the animals. Oh, and there is a good amount of junk food consumed. The Puyallup has an extensive photography exhibit. Actually, they have two exhibit categories: WA state photographers and an international exhibit. You can imagine the caliber of photographs on display. Impressive. Intimidatingly so.
Which brings me to my point. Ahhhh…there is a point to this entry besides just walking you down my memory lane and (perhaps) making you think that you, too, want to go to the fair this summer. You should go to the fair. I’m going to two. Because I’m going to enter photographs into both the Thurston Co. and the Puyallup. You heard me. I’m putting on my big girl panties and hanging myself out there for unknown, mysterious fair judges to judge my work.
For me, the Thurston Co. Fair was an easy decision to make. It’s not a huge show. I think a lot of the competition is likely around my caliber…some better, some worse. Watch, I won’t get a single ribbon and will be all mad. Best keep my ego in check.
The Puyallup, though. That took some thinking. It’s a big deal. Some hefty competition. I’m not thinking I’m going to win best in show. Heck, if one of my entries got an honorable mention nod at the Puyallup I would be over the moon. As it is, it will be pretty cool just to see some of my photos hanging in the exhibit hall. Because there’s a chance they won’t even make it that far. They don’t even accept all of the entries. Oh, to be turned away at the door…that would suck. It’s a very real possibility.
Here’s the thing: I’ve been doing this manual photography thing for a snidge over a year now. I know that I have improved. I know I still have a lot to learn. But…why not? Why not toss my hat into both fairs? So, I ordered mounted prints from Miller’s Professional Imaging lab. Because if I’m going to do it I’d better do it right….right?
The prints arrived two days ago. Nine total, with duplicates of some that I intend to enter into both fairs. I opened the box and gasped. Holy crap. It is totally different seeing your work in print than it is squinting at it on a laptop monitor. Some of the images are…well…stunning. Like, look over my shoulder and ask, “Who took that photograph?” stunning. Now, keep in mind that this represents nine out of thousands (THOUSANDS) of photos that I’ve taken in the last year. That’s what made the cut. Like I said, still learning. And the oldest of the nine was taken three months ago.
So, I’m going to pretty much max out the number of photos I can enter into Thurston Co. and am limiting my entries in the Puyallup to the WA State Exhibition. I had a moment of “go big or go home” and considered entering into the International, with fewer entries into Thurston Co., but a wise sage (my photographer sister-in-law suggested I start smaller and work my way up). She’s got a point.
The photos you’ve been scrolling through as you’ve read this? Yes. They are my entries.
It’s going to be a veritable smorgasbord….