The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Sunday, April 23, 2006
The County Fair
NC STATE FAIR Every culture seems to have its own version of a harvest ritual. Some people burn effigies to signify the death of life and to prepare for the renewal of the earth. Some people hold feasts of thanksgiving. Some have the annual slaughter of the goats in preparation for winter. And some people hold fairs.

In North Carolina, in October, the annual State Fair is held, which is a conglomeration of arts, crafts, agriculture, and Carnies. There is nothing else like it. You can see the world's biggest pig, the world's largest alligator, have someone guess your weight, and eat an emu burger. From colonial crafts demonstrations to the largest pumpkin, new and antique farm equipment and the Right-to-Life display, it's a slice of Americana.

Australia has the same ritual, except they are called "Shows" instead of fairs. I don't know what the etymology of "show" is. I am assuming it's because people show off their craftwork of the past year. Dan and I decided to attend the Royal Easter Show every other year. The Easter Show is New South Wales' equivalent to the State Fair without the Native American dance exhibit. It's also just as crowded and just as expensive. They have the same rides that you see at American fairs that are painted with really garish portraits of people on them. You can also see the lumberjack show. In fact, save for the accents and names of the regions here, it's just like "home."
NC or Oz? Only Melanie knows for sure.
This year was an "off" year, and we didn't go to the the Royal Easter Show. This year, we went to see my mother-in-law's knitting submissions in the craft exhibit at the Campbelltown Show. The Campbelltown Show is a town-size fair held at a small horse track out in Macarthur, near where we own our house. It's a lovely spot, and very country. It's the kind of place you can go and play such games as: Spot the First Person with a Full Set of Teeth, and Whoever Spots the Most Number of Overweight Teenaged Girls with Singlets on in Cold Weather Within 30 Minutes, Wins.

To be fair, the Campbelltown Show is actually a lot more fun than the Royal Easter Show. Because it is so colloquial, people actually stop and talk to you about their exhibits. They'll tell you about their cats they are showing and actually let you pet them despite your germs, they'll show you their radio controlled aircraft, and advise you on the best fertilizer to use for your roses.

At the Show, we watched an Angora goat shearing up close (the sheep obviously had been snubbed this year), a beekeeping demo, a poisonous snake handling demo, and we talked to the parrots on display. The women making bobbin lace were more than happy to tell me about the history of their craft and let me handle their lace. To top it off, my mother-in-law swept all categories that she had entered her knitting into - although, to be fair, she's had more than 60 years to perfect her technique. There's probably some woman in the Macarthur District who can't wait for my mother-in-law to stop knitting as she typically wins the ribbons every year.

I didn't get on any of the rides this year, even at the "bargain" price of $5. I think that's a sign of real middle age. Next year, I'm going to get on the Alpine Bobsled just to wind the clock back a few years, and hope that I don't have a stroke.

Dan and I topped off our visit with an old fashioned steamed hot dog. It was the first hot dog I've had since moving to Australia, and it was pretty darned good - just as good as I remember.

People often ask me if I get homesick being so far away from North Carolina, but I have to say, there is no country on earth that comes closer, than Australia. I miss my family, but if I have to live so far away from them, this isn't a bad place to be. No matter it's April instead of October. Once you've been to the Campbelltown Show, you realise that life's pretty good and people are pretty much the same, no matter where you go.
posted by Melanie O. at 7:09 PM -
  • At 10:55 PM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    After reading that your mother-in-law wins all the prizes, I became an instant fan. sorry We live so far apart. If closer, I am sure We would be sewing and knitting together, at least once in a while. Please send a greetings to her from me...and post a few pictures of her crafts. by the way, do they make patch work quilts in Australia?

  • At 8:27 AM, Blogger LivinginOz said…

    Hi gardenbug - they sure do. I took my camera with me and videoed the crafts section, so you'll get to see some of the quilts, knitting, and embroidery crafts when I put the video yearbook together. I will certainly say hi from you.

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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