September 1889


Pam’s Pictorama: By some luck of the draw, I purchased this card about a month shy of its 127th anniversary, advertising the Hancock County Fair in Britt, Iowa which that year was featured on September 17, 18 and 19. Although I thought it might have been a weekend, as it is this year, it was instead Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. It is too late to attend this year, the fair was held on September 2-4, but yes, I am pleased to report that it is still around after all these years.

Somehow this wacky bubble-blowing cat is a fitting image for a fair reminder. I’m not sure about theĀ I’ll Blow it Bigger or Bust tag line, but he is a great crossed eyed feline using a very old-fashioned method of blowing bubbles from a clay pipe and mug. I like the way he has it clutched in his kitty paws.

My own childhood held two annual fairs, bookending either side of the summer. A local church, St. Georges, had a splendid fair which kicked off the summer in late May. It was more of the jumble sale variety, with some small, easy games and all the carnival food and local baked goods you could want. It was within walking distance of where we lived and it heralded the start of the summer season each year. However, end of August or early September, where our town melded into the next, the Firemen’s Fair was held. Although on a small plot, in front of the firehouse and large enough for the trucks to line up there when necessary, it was chock-a-block full of rides and carnival amusements. There was a ferris wheel, cotton candy and candy apples (I have an admitted weakness for both) as well as games of skill and goldfish to be won.(Sadly, none of those goldfish enjoyed much longevity. Cannot even blame the kitties, although our cat Zipper had his way with a few fish in his time, but that is another story.)

Of course when we were little, we insisted on at least one night at the fair and reveled in its glory. As we got older, it was the place where you went with your summer boyfriend/girlfriend in tow and showed off your summer tan as you reacquainted yourself with people you had not seen over the summer. It may be a false memory, but I think there were years in college I was able to go before heading back to school. I have a fiendish love of candied apples and cotton candy.

I checked up on the fair online and it turns out that ours is one of the largest fireman’s fairs in the state of New Jersey and the last time I was in town in July there were already signs up, announcing the dates for the last weekend of August where it merged into September this year. As you read this, I am likely in the South of France dining on good cheese and wine so no complaints, but my mouth is watering a bit for a candied apple, freshly made with the first apples of the season.