An August weekend -- 08/20/07

Late Saturday afternoon Nancy and I went to the Washington County Fair.

The Washington County Fair was started by the Washington County Pomona Grange (which is what they call the umbrella organization of all the local Granges) forty years ago. [If you are a non-U.S. reader, these groups are defined a bit further along.] The Grange owns and operates the fair as a volunteer non-profit community activity. Funds raised by the fair are put into maintaining and improving the fairgrounds, funding the farm life museum they have built on the fairgrounds, providing scholarships to students who want to study agriculture in college, donations to local charities, assistance to 4H and FFA clubs, and to helping to preserve farming as a way of life.

All of the food booths at the fair are operated by local non-profit groups (local Granges, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, volunteer fire departments, high school athletic booster clubs, etc.)

(Interestingly enough, this is one of the few places where Washington County is actually called Washington County. Usually everyone refers to it as "South County" -- even the state highway department posts signs pointing to South County, not to Washington County.)

Nancy and I got something to eat -- chicken salad grinders from the Ashaway Grange ("grinder" is Rhode Islandese for sub sandwich... hoagie, poorboy, or whatever they call them in your neck of the woods) and passed up the many opportunities to indulge in over-eating, although I did eventually break down and get a doughboy (deep-fried dough -- with powdered sugar -- maybe they call them fried dough or elephant ears or flying saucers or pizza frit in your town).

We looked at prize-winning animals and vegetables and arts and crafts... and watched part of a log-sawing contest and a tracker-pull.
"That's some pig!" --- Oh c'mon, if you've ever read Charlotte's Web (or seen one of the movies) how could any other thought enter you mind when you saw this?
Toys for farmers.
The winner of a completion among 4H and FFA clubs to design and build "a fantasy garden."

I was amused when I saw a teenaged girl exhibiting the goat she had raised. She was hand-feeding her goat some hay with one hand while deeply engrossed in a conversation on the cell phone that she held pressed to her ear with her other hand, just like a city girl.

We had a good time but we left before the big show of the evening, a concert by country music star Mell Tillis, even though Nancy has become a big country music fan, partly because she was tired and partly in order to avoid being stuck in traffic when several thousand other people would also be leaving the fair.

Note to non-US readers (and maybe a few U.S. city slickers as well) -- The Grange (their formal name is The Order of the Patrons of Husbandry) is a fraternal organization for farmers that was organized in the years following the U.S. Civil War. At one time it was a major political force (instrumental in the passage of a number of laws that helped rural areas) and, although membership and influence have declined (along with the percentage of the population involved in agriculture) it is still an important part of the community in rural areas. (And, despite parts of this county becoming more of a bedroom community for the Providence area, other parts are still attempting to preserve their rural heritage.) 4H is a youth group (ages 5 - 21) for kids in rural areas sponsored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 4H stands for Head, Heart, Hands, Health. FFA is Future Farmers of American, a club (mostly for high school kids although there are also both middle school and college clubs) for those who want to be farmers.

I managed to run a mile and a half on Sunday (followed by half an hour or so of exercise bike riding and weight-lifting) without pain, so I think maybe that muscle I pulled a couple of weeks ago in my right calf is finally healing.

Sunday night we were at Kinney Bungalow as wedding attendants. (Yes, I built that site.) I think I should invest in the stock of companies that make hearing aids. Given the high volume that wedding DJs all seem determined to use to blast music out... I am sure there is going to be a huge need for hearing aids in the near future. I know that people enjoy dancing at weddings but sometimes people at weddings also like to be able to talk with other people. It certainly isn't possible to do that while these DJs are pumping out those decibels. When Jill was in high school and I would bring her and her friends to Lupo's, I always used ear plugs (and gave them to the kids to wear also) to protect my hearing. I don't understand why DJs can't seem to understand the difference between a wedding reception and a nightclub mosh pit.

Jill's road trip.

She left here early Saturday afternoon and phoned to say they (Jill, her boyfriend Eli and another friend) had reached their first stop, just across the Pennsylvania border into Ohio, around three a.m. They left there Sunday afternoon and decided to stop for the night in Wisconsin because of rain and fog. I expect that we will soon get a phone call to tell us that they have reached their destination in Minnesota. (After some undetermined amount of time visiting friends there, they will then head for Seattle and Portland.)

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