Sunday, August 21, 2011

agri culture?

The weather report was calling for rain. A lot of rain. Reports from various sources varied but all seemed to have a window of sun and haze before the deluge set in. I decided to head up to Nelson's farm in Hebron to pay for some hay I took earlier in the month and bring home another load. The humidity and sunlight fighting through the liquid air was breathtaking. I love the world before a storm. I especially love it when its a morning occurrence, a rarity around here, and you start the day feeling like summer vacation and you're 7 years old.

This isn't related to hay, but the other night I headed over to Firecracker farm for dinner, and something strange happened. It was around 9PM on a Wednesday, and I was driving home in the dark from White Creek, 20 minutes south of home. They say smell is the sense that brings back memories, but it was motion that delivered back to the summer of 2004 that night. Driving under the stars, singing along with the music, just having left the laughter of friends...I felt like it was a weeknight in college. Still a school night, but free. Like my day would start at 3:30PM if I called someone for their Art History notes. The lawless, self-governed weeknight is what I felt, even though I still had to be at my desk by 8AM. I don't know what brought this feeling of youth and freedom, but it was thick. I was happy as as 1960's beach movie dancer about to pick up MoonDoggy for the clam bake.

I did get my hay, 17 bales. Nelson and I piled them onto the back of the Dodge with the help of two local guys. I got to listen in on a stellar conversation about hay and deer hunting. I told them I was going deer hunting but they just kinda smiled and nodded. This was a conversation among serious men, newbies and womenfolk, step aside. I smiled. I don't take offense when 80-year-olds in feed caps don't take me too seriously. Who knows, maybe I'll get the only 8-pointer on the mountain. It was good to fill up the barn with some more bales though. And stacking them in the barn right before the clouds broke felt like I won something. It is still raining out there but that hay is dry in the barn.

Tomorrow is the first day of the Washington County Fair and I might make it over that way for dinner. I'm excited! It's a great big Ag Fair, one of the largest in the state. And after living here a full round of the seasons I even know some of the farmers in the cow and sheep barns. It'll be a big time, and that ferris wheel at night is magical.

I was talking with a friend about the fair tonight and he raised a good point: why is it that in a farming region, there is nowhere at the county fair to buy local foods? Everything is shipped in and deep fried? I'm not saying there shouldn't be funnel cakes and pastry-covered Snickers, but why not a grass-fed burger stand or cheese tent? For a festival of local agriculture, where's the Agri Culture?

21 Comments:

OpenID Tami said...

Excellent point!

August 21, 2011 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger Diane said...

I absolutely love the Washington County Fair, and I do love fair food, but I have often wondered why they couldn't have a dining tent featuring locally grown meats and veggies. The only things local are the honey, cheese and ice cream. Guess I'll have to stick with a blooming onion and a root beer float!

August 21, 2011 at 9:29 PM  
Blogger DaShannon said...

There was a local foods building at the Ohio state fair this year... Lovely!

August 21, 2011 at 9:33 PM  
Blogger goatldi said...

Good luck with that. It falls somewhere between litigation and FDA.

The Grass Valley Fair in Nevada Co. sports local eats. So does the Boonville fair for Mendocino Co.

But the big commercial fairs such as Fresno Co. and Cal Expo don't.

Such a shame!

August 21, 2011 at 9:40 PM  
Blogger Laurie F. said...

Bob Andersen's Corn Crib has local corn and I am quite certain lots of his other veggies are Washington County grown as well. The maple syrup at the pancake place is local as well. I bet there are more places but I can't think of them off the top of my head. More would be better of course!

August 21, 2011 at 9:48 PM  
Blogger E said...

Maybe you could do a local food at the fair in the future?

August 21, 2011 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger Pricilla said...

Fair food is not to be messed with. It is sacrosanct

August 21, 2011 at 10:17 PM  
Blogger New York Autumn said...

I love county fairs. Or state fairs, town fairs, I'm not picky.

Where I'm from, they usually do include local food. You've got a cow barn full of dairy cows for judging, and they need milking -- that milk gets sold at one end of the barn, in little paper cups. Bakers enter their pies for judging, and at the end, what the judges haven't eaten is sold in a bake sale.

Some stalls offer local produce, honey, fiber, meats. Back when I used to go to a lot of fairs, you would only see a couple of those stalls per fair, but I haven't been to more than 1 or 2 fairs a year for awhile now, not since long before the rise of the locavore movement. I would bet there are more of those stalls now; it just makes sense!

It seems like such a sensible idea. Of course it needs some regulation, but hopefully it isn't completely forbidden in your area. It would be a great change to make.

August 21, 2011 at 11:16 PM  
Blogger Reason's Whore said...

What I'd like to know is why, when it's August and I live in f*ing California, I can't buy a tomato that was grown in the United States in the grocery store.

August 22, 2011 at 2:39 AM  
Blogger mdoe37 said...

mmm hmm They smiled and nodded at me too when they heard I was going deer hunting. Wiped that smile off their faces when I walked back in with a nine point taken with a compound bow. They take me as seriously as a heart attack now. :)

August 22, 2011 at 6:18 AM  
Blogger melinamarie said...

Good point. I would love to make and sell local food at our fair. I've been thinking looking into to it for next year. Our county fair has a local food recipe contest. I don' know about other local food I've never been to it since we moved last year.

August 22, 2011 at 8:39 AM  
Blogger Gretchen said...

Very good point. We're a little distant, aren't we?

August 22, 2011 at 9:06 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Well, there should be contact information for the directors of the fair in the program (or in the premium book) - call 'em up and tell 'em what for!

August 22, 2011 at 9:12 AM  
Blogger Kelpie and Collie said...

The thing is, county fairs have long been established as a way for farmers and their children to get away from their daily toils, and enjoy rides, some food they can't produce themselves (corn dogs for one!) and just relax. If they have animals at the fair, they spend most of the time with the animals, and if they bring produce, it is there to be judged. You can still get good local food, you just have to know where to look. Farmers need a break some times too!

August 22, 2011 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger hart said...

That is a great video! Very charming.
-hart

August 22, 2011 at 11:02 AM  
Blogger Odie Langley said...

I love it when you write from the heart Jenna and take us along the memory trail of your day. The way you write and describe things makes me feel like I am there and that is so enjoyable.
Odie

August 22, 2011 at 11:10 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Have you ever heard of the Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine? Now they have some good food! No "fair type" food unless its organic and grown local. Its a must attend sometime. This year its on the weekend of September 24.

August 22, 2011 at 3:00 PM  
Blogger Kathy P. said...

Wow. I've never seen a fancy-schmancy commercial like that for the Oneida County Fair. Just the State Fair in Syracuse does it big.

August 22, 2011 at 6:18 PM  
Blogger simplestead said...

Carry the corn torch Jenna and start a local food stand at the fair next year!

August 22, 2011 at 6:32 PM  
Blogger Glyndalyn said...

Think it is a great idea for you to do some local food at the fair in the future.

August 23, 2011 at 8:15 PM  
OpenID Allison said...

The last point you make is one of the many reasons I hate the fair.

August 23, 2011 at 11:44 PM  

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