Just recently, I went to the Florida State Fair here in Orlando. It struck me how similar it was to the West Tisbury Agricultural Fair, in Massachusetts. It wasn’t just the games and rides, and the food and fun, it was the people.
These days, the politicians and pundits love to play games of class warfare. Of course, they deny this and accuse each other of it, but – if you believe them – just about everyone in the country hates everyone else. The poor want handouts, the rich want money, the unions want more power, and so on.
At a state fair, I saw the people, the real people, of my community. Just about all ethnic groups represented, virtually all socioeconomic classes and even some religious faiths were evident. What I saw was people enjoying the simple pleasures of life, of community. There were the 4H displays, arts and crafts exhibits and yeah, they actually gave first, second and third prizes, and all manner of organizations. My wife liked the polymer clay club.
Walking around the fair, I watched as people got along; there were virtually no fights or trouble. Children had fun on the simplest of rides. Young men won the heart of their love by buying or, more often, winning her a stuffed animal. People of all ages enjoyed the farm animals and the old-fashion food and drinks. My wife and I have always been partial to fried dough topped with powdered sugar. Oh, pure decadent delight!
As we sat and ate still more unhealthy food and drank old-fashion lemonade, I couldn’t help but think how little people had changed in the forty-odd years since my first fair. Yeah, there were iPads and iPods around, and plenty of cell phones in use and virtually every teen was texting, but it was also clear that people were enjoying lots of plain, old-fashion fun.
Taking all this in, I couldn’t help but think of the politicians who kowtow to the special interest groups. Right and left, they chop away the basic support systems for the poor and middle class – while handing out tax cuts and subsidies to the rich and corporate bigwigs.
Yet, still the regular people can enjoy the simple pleasures of a state fair. Seeing something like that, when my own situation is quite bad: no job, going to lose my house, no insurance, no retirement, really gladdens my heart; it re-affirms my confidence in Americans that they can still have fun, even when times are so tough.
To be honest, I’d rather lost interest in going to the state fair, ever since my daughter got “too old” for them. In future, I think I’ll be attending more of them – I like the people there.
Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.
Click above to tell a friend about this article.