Flander's Lane, Washington Maine

Flander's Lane is named after my grandfather, Roland Flanders. It is a short dirt road with a few camps set on Washington Pond. There are tales that Flander's Lane is haunted. At least that's what my grandfather says.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Union Fair

Goats at the Union FairOne of the things we were all looking forward to when we made this year's trip to Maine is the annual Wild Blueberry Festival known as the Union Fair. Every year growing up here in Knox County as a child, there was nothing I looked forward to more than the Union Fair. The best part is, very little has changed.

The Union Fair is still a real farm fair with lots of animals, an old time farm museum, midway rides, bingo, handmade crafts, fried dough boys, cotton candy, and games. We loved it this year, as I have every year I've ever come here.

The only things I miss, that are long gone due to the times are the hoochy coochy girls, and freak shows. Sure, I was way too young to go into the hoochy coochy girls tent to see the show, but I remember all the men outside cat calling as the girls danced out on the front stage to lure the men inside to the paid show. They would all be dressed in scantily clad garments that would accent their body type, and attempt, one by one, to get the attention of any red blooded man in the audience. I always wondered what went on inside that tent. Now that the hoochy coochy days are over, I'll never know.

Fun HouseThe freak shows did allow kids inside, and I remember seeing strong men, bearded ladies, tattooed women, and my favorite, the Seal Boy. Seal Boy was a man that had no arms or legs, but he still had hands and feet that came out of his shoulders and body. He would flop on his belly up to the stage, get out a straight raiser, smear his face with shaving cream, and shave his face as he told his life story. True or not he would tell a tale of being locked up in the attic during childhood, being brought a daily bowl of leftover food, hidden from the world as some kind of family embarrassment. He would tell us that he lived only off the tips we would give him, and that he made nothing from the admission fee we paid to get in. We would all put a dollar or two in his cup on the way out.

I think all the politically correct folk nowadays would rather these kinds of people collect welfare and sit alone in low income housing out of sight than travel the world under the big top, center stage. I remember the summers when my mom worked at the fair running The Mouse Game, I would hang out with the Seal Boy or Snake Man. They would tell me that the freak show saved their lives, making them stars, allowing them to see parts of the world they might otherwise have never seen. I wonder where they are now, and I hope they are happy. I miss that stuff.

Union Fair still has demolition derby, and motorcycle stunt riders. You know, the guys that ride motorcycles inside mesh spheres around and around, sometimes several cycles at a time. The mufflers are shortened so the bikes make a loud racket. So dangerous and amazing. Makes me so nervous, so much could go wrong. In fact, more could go wrong than could go right it seems with that kind of stuff. Like, how do you practice that?

My wee one didn't like the loud motorcycles or fireworks, but she did like to watch the pig scramble, which was just as loud. This is where they drop a bunch of baby pigs into a dirt ring, and give a bunch of kids burlap potato bags, and whoever catches a pig gets to take it home. It's a hoot to see all these kids and squealing pigs rolling around in the dirt. It's even funnier to see them with a big ole' bag of pig walking around the fair later on. I wonder how many parents are surprised when their kid comes home with a baby pig. So funny.

Ferris WheelI was surprised when my 2 year old wanted to ride the ferris wheel over and over. I don't even like the ferris wheel, but I had to respect her enthusiasm. After a few rides on the merry go round, she got bored, pointed up in the air and said, "how 'bout that?" There was no height requirement, so off we went, all the way up, and all the way down, over and over.

I made sure to go to the fair on opening day so that I could have a look at the knit items on display in the 4H building. Many of the crafts folk that display actually put a price on the handmade items, so I wanted to be sure to get the chance to purchase what I wanted, just in case I saw something that struck my eye. I found a nifty Halloween sweater in orange and black with a bat, Jack-O-Lanterns, and cats that fit my kid perfect. The handmade sweater was priced at only $25.00 so I paid the lady right away, and got a receipt so that I could pick it up on closing day. What a treasure!

To top it all off, what would a day at the Wild Blueberry Festival be without a piece of blueberry pie? Without a doubt, it was the best pie of any kind I've ever had. Perfect crust, balance of sweetness, and ripe blueberries. I just could not get enough of the stuff. Those grannies really know what they are doing.

The week passed fast, and my kid is still asking to go to the fair. We have to keep explaining that they packed it all up and went away. I think it's hard for her to believe it. It's hard to imagine all that stuff going anywhere. I already can't wait until next year.


At September 4, 2007 10:33 AM , Blogger Mark Harvey said...

Sounds incredible! Nothing beats a REAL fair.

Glad you guys had fun.

Thinking of you in California...


At September 4, 2007 10:34 AM , Blogger Mark Harvey said...

Sounds like a lot of fun. Nothing beats a REAL fair. Glad you're enjoying the homeland.

Keeping things safe here in California...

I'll be in Maine for Halloween.



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