The Champlain Valley Fair is held annually in Essex Junction, Vermont, always at the end of summer. This is the fair’s ninetieth year. There are rides and games and sugary foods, and, this year, a performance by country music mega-star Toby Keith. Alongside all this are the agricultural events: contests in horsemanship, showing livestock, judging of vegetables, fruit and flowers, company reps selling tractors and plows. It’s a great opportunity for people who play at farming (as I do) to admire the expertise of actual farmers. I visited yesterday and today to purchase a few new hens. On both days I arrived as the gates opened, so the fairgrounds had a strange appearance, at once festive and vacant. Here are some pictures.
The entrance to the midway, beneath a perfect sky:
And here’s a picture from the previous day, with clouds and a lonely appearance to the grounds:
This ride—The Scrambler—was my absolute favorite as a boy. It’s good to see it still twirling away, making kids scream:
Like any good fair, there were rows of food trucks, selling delicacies of fried dough, corn dogs, and sausage. They compete for the gaudiest display.
In photographing the food booths, I was trying to contrast the garish exterior against the run-down worker inside. It seemed like an Edward Hopper idea: the gaudy carnival full of boring work. For the shot above and below, I thought of Hopper’s famous Nighthawks. Crudely done, but that was my thought.
In contrast, the livestock exhibitors seemed engaged in their work. They were mainly kids and young adults, shearing sheep, washing and blow-drying their cows, and painting hooves with shoe polish, all in preparation for competition.
The poultry hall had hundreds of caged birds, all clucking, cackling, squawking, and crowing. Many of them were beautiful, for instance this year’s best-in-show rooster, a leg horn:
Maple syrup is a huge industry in Vermont, and the fair has an entire building devoted to “maple sugar.” Here are rows of prize-winning syrup:
The cabbage podium, an annual scene of high drama:
This year’s largest pumpkin. I like that the farmer’s name is “Wilbur Horton,” a solid pumpkin-growing name.
Tonight’s act will surely be a sell-out:
A retired carousel horse. He wears an anxious expression, although now he merely pulls a flower cart:
The hens I purchased (two wyandottes and a barred rock), along with a few miscellaneous shots. There’s no shortage of color and spectacle at the fair!