Not just another fair

By Matthew Sotlar

Did you go to the fair this year?

I didn’t plan on going this year, but when I learned Jimmy Buffett had died, I figured the only way to quell the impending depressive episode was a trip to the Canfield Fair.

Allow me to bore you with a little history of the Canfield Fair. Back in the early 1840s, when the closest people had to a car and phone were a horse and telegraph, Elisha Whittlesey decided his beautiful little stretch of farmland known as Canfield should host a gathering of great agriculturalists and their creations. Mind you, the only activities considered fun in 1845 were reading — which few people could do — and looking at farm equipment. 

In 1846, at the behest of both Whittlesey and the Mahoning County Agricultural Society, the Canfield Fair was born to display agricultural advancements.

In the past 177 fairs — 176 if you count 2020 as an off-year — there have been major changes. Obviously, it is no longer just a place where Jedidiah can gaze upon Old Man Jenkins’ newest wheat thresher. You can buy food, ride rides and, of course, look at the animals and award-winning crops.

What’s my favorite building at the fair? Well, whether or not you asked, I’ll tell you: I love the Fruit, Hay and Grain building. 

There is nothing better than rows of award-winning corn, honey and wheat all lined up for public viewing. While I am completely unaware of how corn is graded, one of my goals in life is to be a tough-as-nails corn judge at the Canfield Fair. It’ll polish up my résumé quite nicely.

I almost forgot to mention the fair food. Silly me. I am particularly fond of the different foods you can deep fry — deep-fried candy bars, cookies, elephant ears and funnel cakes. This year, I tried a deep-fried Snickers bar. If you can get over the fact that it’s nougat, caramel, chocolate, and peanuts all coagulating together in hot fry batter, you will find that deep frying is the only way to eat a Snickers. 

I also bought an $18 smoked turkey leg to feel like a medieval king at a feast. It was not worth the money or the faux authority. 

The stand offering a bottle of water for a dollar — $2 for two waters — was too good of a deal to pass up. My friend asked the vendor how much five waters would cost. His reply? Five dollars. Impassable bargain.

You notice I failed to include the rides. I will not get on any ride that has been unfolded from a suitcase. You are more than welcome to enjoy the two-minute lawsuit waiting to happen. I’ll hold your stuff and watch, listen as the hydraulics hiss and wonder  — and hope, practically pray — that you’ll get down safely.

Seeing Koe Wetzel in concert was not on my itinerary as I have no clue who he is. I could hear him from the Grandstand, though, not my type of music. I also failed to see Boyz II Men, which I know I will come to regret one day.

Ignore my cynicism. Believe it or not, I’m convincing you to go to the Canfield Fair next year. Obviously, I can’t force you to go, nor will I beg you to go. But, if people from all over the country go to the fair, why shouldn’t you? You’ll have a good time, I guarantee it.