You had me at “runaway pig”

Caitlyn cozies up to a chick at the Marion Co. Fair.

Caitlyn cozies up to a chick at the Marion Co. Fair.

It started with a runaway pig. I had never been to the county fair before, but, for some reason, my editors at the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus thought it’d be good for a 20-something city slicker to get a little bit of country in his blood. I entered the swine barn and started interviewing a 4-H’er on what it takes to be a livestock champion and how and why he got into the business.

It was then I heard a “WATCH OUT!” and, before I knew it, a hefty hog had ran straight between my legs and upended me onto the dirt. It was not a good day to have worn khakis. The teen I was talking to told me these sorts of things happen in the Swine Barn and that I should always be on alert. Perhaps this is why I’m vegetarian.

Still, something about that day stuck in my memory and the magic of the smell of artery-clogging delicacies wafting through the air, combined with the smallest of 4-H’ers (known as “Cloverbuds”) showing off their prize guinea pig or rabbit made me fall in love with the fair. Little did I know then that in six or so years I’d be working for the Indiana State Fair, one of the largest state fairs in the nation. It’s like Walt Disney World … if run by farmers and carnies.

But the opportunity to have a Florida-like trip just miles from home doesn’t come around until August; it all starts with the county fairs. Think of these as the semifinals for the championship that is the Indiana State Fair in August. Fair season opened a couple weeks ago here in Indy and Caitlyn and I made our first visit to the Marion County Fair, nestled just inside I-465 on the outskirts of Indianapolis.

Albeit much, much smaller than the state fair, the Marion County Fair was pleasant in its own way. It still had the same greasy King’s Taters potato chips that we’ve come to love (I’m sure our digestive tracts would disagree) at the state fair and Caitlyn was more than stoked to hold a sleepy chick in the palm of her hand. It’s always impressive to walk into the Arts & Crafts pavilion to see how kids a fraction of my age can make a better painting, outfit or papier mache crocodile infinitely billion times nicer than I could ever do.

The fair season is truly a great chance for families or couples to get out and see animals and foods they normally never would get a chance to see in the big city. It’s also an opportunity to have your faith renewed in the future of this country. See you at the fair!

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