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  • I like everything about county fairs.

    I like eating meat and deep-fried Oreos. I like seeing the old plows and buggies and thinking, man our great grandparents were badass, we’ve got it easy these days. I like all the animals, and if you haven’t stood next to one thousand pounds of well-groomed ox, you’re missing out. I like the kids because nothing says summer like kids running around having fun some weekday evening just after the sun has gone down. I like the grizzled old farmers because I know they must have great stories. I like the vendors because I can’t imagine what they do in the winter. I like the middle-aged women who get all dolled up and the guys my age with work pants and t-shirts and beards and cammo ball caps with the logo of whichever American company made their pickup. I like teenagers with babies and the smiling awkward cops.

    The fair is a few nights of good wholesome fun as the first chills of autumn arrive. Little kids on big horses barrel racing, amateur stock car racing, a Ferris wheel against the clear dusk sky, apple pie, throngs of people walking through rows of food stalls lit up against the night, hundreds of happy voices punctuated by the ding of a game and the guys hawking gaudy prizes, the hiss of dough hitting hot oil, the rich smell of animals and dust and cooking, of mud and crushed grass and gasoline.

    Reasonable prosperity for good hardworking folks, that’s what we want to believe about our country and that’s what you see at a fair. That’s the thing I like most about fairs: they’re so American. Unapologetically, unironically American, and you can bet your ass the National Guard has a booth. Every archetype of rural life is there and it almost seems nostalgic, except the fair is just ordinary folks got together to have a good time. Simple as that. It's not just what we want to think the country is, it is what the country is.

    That’s why the cheap inflatable toy machine guns printed with the American flag made me so sad.
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