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Well, another Ancaster Fall Fair (previously discussed here, here, and here) has come and gone, and this year was no less culturally satisfying than the last.  The cowboys, cowgirls, and cowchildren were all out in force again, proudly displaying their pigs, sheep, large pumpkins, and (mysteriously) silage.  The kids excitedly decorated their flyswatters for what could be the least justifiable category for competition in the history of white glue, and the Right to Life booth continued its fine tradition of unintentionally driving away visitors into the waiting arms of the Milk Council booth across the aisle.

This year, my brother and sister-in-law (Ben and Jill) joined us at the fair.  We also had another visitor with us on this trip: 4-month old Abby.  At last year’s fair, she was roughly 2.5mm long and much less enthused about things like agricultural displays, what with her being in utero and all.

While Abby has yet to form much of a civic bias, Ben and Jill are city folk and fiercely proud of it.  The country holds little appeal for them.  They are not swayed by my insistence that the Theatre Ancaster production of The Wizard of Oz would rival the live shows in downtown Toronto both in scope and quality.  They mock our local ice cream shops and complain bitterly at our lack of underground trains.  Our company (and mostly Abby’s) is the only thing that could draw them out to something as (shudder) rural as the Ancaster Fall Fair.

They were, however, looking forward to the fair for the pure joy to be had by being in the presence of the simple and the bumpkin-esque; hillbillies and carnies are much harder to come by in Toronto.

We headed out into the blustery afternoon with a baby strapped to my chest and my brother’s iPhone charged and ready to discreetly photograph the orthodontically impaired.

Some of the highlights of this year’s fair:

An example of the kind of informational postings at the Ancaster Fall Fair. Issue number 1: This is a question. It should end in a question mark. Issue number 2: Do the farmers want this number to go up or down?

  • The informational displays about dirt. Each placard was placed above a bucket showing the kind of dirt in all its dirty glory.  We learned about the properties of sand, silt, and clay.
  • The giant sow with her 28 million piglets. My brother described it as a “writhing mass of pink,” which is a very accurate description of the sight of so many little piglets fighting over each other while mom lay pinned to her side by the inexorable forces of gravity and metal cages.
  • My sister-in-law realizing that I wasn’t lying about last year’s fair. “This is actually a category!” she cried out, pointing at the “Basket of Homemade Treats for a Shut-In.”  “I thought you were making stuff up again, as you often do.”  Why bother making stuff up when someone comes up with a prize category as brilliant as “Something Useful Made from Something Discarded?”
  • One of my former students spotting me and yelling out, “Hi, Mr. Stirling!” Actually, the highlight was my brother bursting out, “Mr. Stirling?  Ha!  That’s hilarious!”  He then felt bad about unintentionally mocking the poor girl when he was actually trying to insult me.
  • My sister-in-law getting her debit card compromised by a carnie cash machine. This really isn’t a highlight, since it is a right pain-in-the-butt to come up with a new PIN and to have your card locked up for 6 hours, but it was more the irony of a toothless ride operator using technology to outwit my streetwise, city-dwelling family.  Maybe it was just a random attack.  Or maybe they overheard my brother making fun of the guy selling the deep-fried pickles.

(Sorry, Jill.  This isn’t funny, and I actually feel bad about it.  But carnie fraud is kind of fun, right?)