Postcards From the Fair

Boulder County Fair Merete Mueller

We went in search of funnel cake. Lindsey (above, in yellow) grew up in five different states, but it was Illinois that hooked her on county fairs. Cane County, she told us in the car, rivaled Cook County next door. We were driving the diagonal highway that cuts across the plains to Longmont, the mountains to our backs.

I’ve lived in Boulder County for six years and it took Lindsey, then a somewhat new friend from NYC (and five other states) to show me what was in my own backyard.

We wandered through cavernous barns built for goats and pigs, doing what city girls do in such situations: take photos with our cameraphones. Alyssa considered buying a long-haired bunny. Lindsey combed through the quilts.

Boulder County Fair Merete Mueller

There was a woman who crocheted sock puppets and blankets and other homemade crafts. Our favorite was the “Dammit Doll,” sewed into a perfect shape for gripping and banging against walls and furniture. A way to hold frustration in the hand. Only softer, less destructive. Like a grandmother who nods knowingly and tells you to “go punch a pillow, darling” or “drink a glass of water.”

Her price tags were printed with a typewriter, attached with safety pins and thread. Lindsey asked if she had a website. “No,” she laughed, “I’ve always sold my things at the fair. Stores are just so complicated.”

Boulder County Fair Merete Mueller

We split our pennies between corn on the cob and vanilla soft serve cones. Deep fried oreos and twinkies were also an option, maybe for next time.

The sun was setting. August sun, the kind that keeps on seeping out of everything as it fades. The ferris wheels and freckled shoulders, the parking lot of pick-up after pick-up.

Boulder County Fair Merete Mueller

At the Cavern of Doom, the woman taking tokens spoke of the ride as hers. “My haunted house” she said and I pictured her driving around the country, unfolding the trailer as soft-serve stations and 4-H Club fundraisers assemble themselves around her. Another night, a field, a highway. Perhaps the air feels different in some places, maybe heavier or more moist. Here the mountains are backlit as the sun drops behind them. But eveywhere the same summer heat and headlights.


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