Our chorus has been singing at the Montgomery County Agricultural Fair for many years. We stroll around the fairgrounds singing to people in different locations and settings. This year we committed as a group to being at the fair every day. I am singing on six of the nine days of the fair. I resume today after a one-day break yesterday.
It has been a mixed experience so far, but mostly fun. Summer evenings in the Washington, DC, area are quite hot and humid, and the instability in the air often leads to heavy thunderstorms that can prevent us from strolling around outside. We could end up in some indoor location or the other where one has to wear a mask all the time. Also, it can be quite noisy all around you when you are trying to sing outdoors. All in all, we do not have the best conditions for practicing the craft. But when the four sections of the chorus happen to sync up perfectly in song, it can be musical magic regardless of where you happen to be.
Our activities at the fair take place at a time of the evening when one is forced to consider having one’s dinner at the fair itself. It is mostly carnival food that is available. It is probably not very good for my system, but it can also be quite tasty. The going fare is stuff like funnel cake, cotton candy, popcorn, deep-fried Oreos, hot dogs, ice-cream, etc… For more filling food, one can find places with hamburgers, pulled pork and chicken sandwiches, sausages, etc… And you can get a bonus with a large serving of cheese and/or bacon on something that is already not good for your heart. (The Texas-style hamburger was recommended to us!) Or perhaps you like cheese sandwiches by themselves from the The Big Cheese! The crepe food truck seems to be an exception to the usual fair food. I will visit it today. I did have a Gyro on Tuesday. Yum! You can forget about vegetables at the fair. I have not yet come across a place where you can get a salad.
One cannot forget that this is ultimately an agricultural fair. Farmers come from all across the region, even neighboring states, to show and tell – and to buy and sell. There are all kind of animals, including cows, goats, sheep, pigs, etc.., in the different buildings. You cannot avoid the smell if you are wandering in this section of the fair. And watch where you step! There are events held in small arenas where the animals are the stars of the show. You can probably buy a cow if you were so inclined!
The carnival section of the fair, with its loud noise and bright lights, and its rides and shows, is probably the part of the fair that draws in many of the young people to the fair. We mostly stay away from this section!
There is even a blacksmith in action near one of the entrances. A glass blowing company does demonstrations with their full setup in another location. Local vineyards, and distillers of other spirits, also make a showing, as do political and religious organizations.
In the end, this is also a community gathering. There are competitions for arts and crafts, and for even different kinds of foods – mainly baked goods. There is an old-timers building where you can even see contraptions from the local farms from times past.
Unfortunately, this year’s fair has been less crowded than usual – so far. This is probably due to the coronavirus, and perhaps also due to the weather. This is not a good situation for the vendors. One hopes that the last few days of the fair brings an improvement to the situation.
This year I noticed that more people than usual at the fair seem to remember us from our presence in past years. And some people actually do look forward to hearing us sing for them. That is cool!