Today was day 7 of my 17-day adventure known as the 2010 Indiana State Fair. I begin each day around 5:15 AM, make sure my team is at their posts, ensure everyone has water and has the things they need, and then I settle down, help out where I can and watch the Fair come alive. It usually involves observing families of all ages and sizes getting their cattle up and walking them back to the barn and making sure nothing interfers with them. Helping the early risers find parking and get their prize, cookies, cakes, in some cases geese (see below) where they need to be. In many instances I just watch what is happening, the sunrise, the fog burn off, the vendors folding back their tents and inventorying their supplies. What I have come to realize over the past week is that a lot of things happen before 8:00 AM.
A few examples;
- I met a grandfather, his 2 granddaughters and their ducks and geese as they unloaded them outside the exhibition hall early one morning the day of a competition. Turns out the gentleman raised poultry and entered competitions with his daughter. Now he is doing it again with his grandchildren. All three took the time to explain to me how the show worked. The next day I happened to run into him again and asked how the kids did. One of the girls had a state champion duck. The other had a state champion duck and goose! His girls had won a trifecta!! I congratulated him and asked how this compared to other shows. He teared up a bit and said he had never done this well. His daughter was coming down from South Bend for the sale. (all champion poultry is sold and killed). He didn’t know how is grand daughters would take that part.
- I met a lad who taught me a bit about pigs. A pig goes to market at 275 pounds. It turns out that many of the pigs being shown at this State Fair were born in February. A pig can go from piglet to market in about 6 months! He said they can grow 4 pounds a day!
- I watched the state fair champion sow nurse her 11 piglets with no one around other than the pigs and me. What does she do when she wants them to stop nursing? She rolls over on her stomach.
- I watched the harness horses trot out of their barns and out on the track for before dawn practice. They are beautiful animals.
- I watched as 15–18 wheelers and the 10-bus entourage arrived at 5:30 AM to set up for a KISS concert that evening. In less than 10 hours the roadies and crew had everything unloaded, set up and tested. The concert went on at 8:00 PM, was over by 10:30 and everything was packed up and out of the fairgrounds by 2:00 AM the next morning.
- I smelled the odors of the fair, the animals of course but also the smell of bacon as vendors opened early and made breakfast for the farm families that were living in the barns and the mist from the water that was sprayed on the streets over the night to keep the dust down.
In school they teach us that the best way to understand a market is to immerse ourselves in that market. How often do we really take the time to do it? In this case I am losing a bit of sleep but I am also learning by watching, listening, smelling and feeling the pulse of this huge “city” we call a Fair. It changes every day with different events, participants and observers.
Now if I can survive the heat. It has hit 95 degrees the past three days. Maybe that is why so much happens in the morning.
Until next time – all the best!