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Remember: Visiting the Great Allentown Fair

Monday, September 7, 2009

Visiting the Great Allentown Fair

Visiting the fair is a tradition when you grow up in Allentown. As a child, the fair is exciting and awe inspiring. There are animals to see, rides, carnival games and the inevitable winning of a goldfish that manages to live just long enough to name it before the flush. When you reach high school and the high hormones of your teenage years, the fair is the place to hang out.

We used to gather around the Ritz and literally just stand there. Of course, before leaving, we would be carrying a plastic bag with a goldfish in it.

Now, as an adult living a block from the fair, it is mostly a pain in the ass with traffic, parking,and scores of cowboy hat wearing undesirables meandering around the neighborhood a little tipsy, yelling something about Tim McGraw and America.

The one constant about the fair is that it means that summer is ending. The fair is the last big hurrah of the season before school starts and leaves start to fall.

Despite recognizing the rides are moderately safe at best and that the games are all rigged (saving the dart game that allows you to win a tiny poster of scantily clad ladies, the candy wheel, and of course the goldfish) and that the crowd is more than a little sketchy; there are absolutely some great things at the Fair that are worth checking out.

I made my yearly pilgrimage to the white trash Mecca of eastern Pennsylvania last night. I entered the gates where I always do, off of Liberty St on the far end. Here, for every year I have attended this event, sit hot tub salesman. Have any of you ever seen anyone walking out of the fair with a hot tub in tow? I want to know conclusively if anyone has ever purchased a hot tub at the fair. I need to know this.

I made my usual beeline to Agricultural Hall. As a kid, I never wanted to go to Ag Hall. I thought it was boring and I am sure I pitched a fit as soon as my mother said “granges.” Now, with the agricultural legacy of the fair fading, I think Ag Hall is the most important place at the fair and it is in fact the reason I go. (I stopped bothering with the goldfish after at least 10 deaths)

Here, in a corner of Ag Hall, away from the hucksters selling magic clocks that tell the time, mop the floor and sing God Bless America is a reminder of our history and our waning agricultural surroundings.

Between the Granges

and the animals

I find my reason for visiting the fair. Despite the fact that as I write this Allen St is still parked full near midnight… The roots of the fair are the reason I still go. I congratulate the farmers and gardeners that won blue ribbons or presented.

You folks are at once our past and our future. Thank you for doing what you do. We need it. These beautiful vegetables are our weapons against a chain culture of plastic restaurants and factory farming. Go Farmers!



Blogger michael molovinsky said...

thanks for your well written impressions, i do agree that Ag Hall is the real deal. back in my youth, we would buy chameleons from a man on the midway (it was still along the grandstand then) he would have a short string around their neck and those strings would be attached to his shirt and hat with safety pins. imagine a guy wearing one hundred chameleons. somehow they always got lost after a day or two back home.

September 7, 2009 at 7:08 AM  
Anonymous Stephen McElroy said...

It is very sad to see what was once a celebration of a good harvest, and ending the summer with the best of the fields has now become neutral gang territory, and as you put it "white trash Mecca".

I hope one day people see that agriculture isn't just something lame on Channel 50 and Channel 2(service electric...4 for RCN). That its what allows us to live in our cities and be well fed, and these are the new hard-working umbilical cord of America.

September 7, 2009 at 1:06 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

September 8, 2009 at 8:54 AM  
Blogger Andrew Kleiner said...

I'm not into censoring people's comments. I will however delete comments that are in no relation to the post I have made and/or are designed to be inflammatory.

September 8, 2009 at 10:22 AM  
Anonymous Marina said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

September 8, 2009 at 4:54 PM  
Anonymous Marina said...

"I'm not into censoring people's comments."

Oh but obviously you are, Andrew :)

September 8, 2009 at 6:13 PM  

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