Nancy Roman

Fair Fare

I don’t recall attending any country fairs when I was a little kid.

Fairs are big in Connecticut. From August through October you can go to Terryville, Goshen, Hebron, Bethlehem, Harwinton, Berlin, Durham, Woodstock – and about a dozen more.  Or you can travel up to Springfield, Massachusetts to The “Big E” – the Eastern States Exposition – a regional fair for all of New England.

I guess my parents weren’t crazy about fairs – I didn’t attend the Big E or the neighborhood Terryville Fair until I was in my twenties. I suppose (actually, I know) it was a waste of money for a family with lots of kids – junk food and then carnival games that you can’t win and more junk food, and then rides to assist you in getting rid of the junk food.

I suffer from motion sickness. My husband can’t even  back up the length of our driveway without warning me, “Close your eyes for a second.”

So carnival/amusement park rides and I are enemies. Mortal enemies. In my home town, we have an amusement park – Lake Compounce – that is rather famous for being the oldest continuously-operated amusement park in the U.S. My sister still goes there regularly, first with her children and now with her grandchildren, and reminisces: “See that ride? Your Aunt Nancy threw up on the ride. See this ride? Your Aunt Nancy threw up on this ride.”

So I’ve never had a great love of amusement parks or carnivals. But I did attend a church fair every year – Saint Anthony’s Parish in Bristol had a big fair – I think in June of each year. And I discovered – through a dare – one ride that didn’t make me puke.

The Ferris Wheel!

I may not be able to go around and around on a carousel. But I found I could go around and around vertically.

How I loved it. I loved stopping at the top and swinging the seat just a little bit. I was so brave!

I’d save my money for months so that I could ride the ferris wheel several times over the weekend. My best friend and I would go early and watch the rides being set up. I couldn’t wait.

The only thing besides the Ferris Wheel that I spent money on at the St. Anthony’s Fair was the most exotic food I had ever eaten.

Cotton Candy.

Oh my God!  The smell, the texture, the pretty pink (only pink, thank you) color. They way it dissolved on my tongue. And there was no other place to have cotton candy the whole year except St. Anthony’s Fair.

Now it is everywhere, and no longer has the power to enchant me. What a shame.

But I have found that country fairs offer so much more than puke-inducing rides. There are cows and chickens and ax-throwing and skillet tosses. And now even pig races and demolition derbies.

And though I don’t eat cotton candy anymore, I really love a greasy steak-and-onion sandwich. This year in Goshen, I had a steak-and-onion sandwich so greasy that when I picked it up, a river of steak-and-onion grease ran down my arms and shirt and all the way to my jeans. You can’t get much better than that.

But I demonstrated remarkable restraint.

Because I didn’t have:

Apple Fritters
Apple Pie
Apple Crisp a la mode
Shaved Ice
Ice Cream
Ice Cream Sundaes
Root Beer Floats
Milk Shakes
Slushies and Flurries
Kielbasa Dogs
Hot Dogs
Chili Dogs
Corn Dogs
Corn on the Cob
Kettle Corn
Maple Popcorn
Maple Candy
Candied Apples
Roasted Peanuts
Candied Pecans
Pulled Pork
BBQ Pork
Steak On A Stick
Chicken On A Stick
Bourbon Chicken
Turkey Drumsticks
Stuffed Baked Potatoes
French Fries
Curly Fries
Cheesy Fries
Clam Fritters
Clam Chowder
Lobster Rolls
Onion Rings
Blooming Onions
Deep Fried Dough
Funnel Cakes
Cider Donuts
Cinnamon Buns
Deep Fried Oreos
Deep Fried Twinkies
Deep Fried Pickles
Frozen Bananas
Deep Fried Snickers

But I could have.

I also could have had a Fresh Garden Salad.

But that’s just crazy.



  1. Dana

    Carnivals and fairs are where I discovered that I’m a really good shot! Those little metal ducks never stood a chance, with me on the rifle! If my body wasn’t 4F, I would have made a darn decent army sniper! 😉


    • How cool is that?! I never discovered anything at the amusement park except that boys will kiss you behind the roller coaster.


  2. Cotton candy aka candy floss here in the UK was a favourite when I was a kid. It still is. Pink is the colour though. Blue, green, yellow, purple, it’s not the same. I used to get more on me than in me so Mum made sure I either wore a bib (embarrassed or what) or old clothes. Last time I had some I shared it with an old lady on Weymouth promenade much to the disgust of my mother in law. Memories!!


    • I remember it being stuck to my nose and my cheeks (and my hair)


  3. You passed up funnel cakes? Now that’s restraint!


    • Well, to be honest, my husband bought the fried dough, and I had a bite. It was awful.


      • Hmm…It’s just fried dough with sugar. You have been eating way too healthy when sugar dough doesn’t taste good anymore!

        Liked by 1 person

        • Ha. True enough. (But also, it was not fried through.. it was raw dough in the middle…yuck)

          Liked by 1 person

  4. Our county fair was this weekend, but we didn’t go. Enjoyed everyone’s pics on FB, though. I’ve never been on a ferris wheel.


    • I haven’t been on a ferris wheel in 50 years. But now I am thinking that I want to ride again – maybe this weekend at the next fair.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Funnel cakes were the height of sophistication at our fairs, but cotton candy and popcorn were the real draws–maybe candy apples too. Now I can’t even wrap my head around some of the items–fried butter? What?? Fun to even contemplate.


    • Last year our friend Steve bought the deep fried oreos and insisted i try one. It was fantastic.


  6. This brought back some memories! When I was a kid, at our local carnival. I went on this Ferris wheel-like ride, except we were in cages that spun around. Then I noticed that the cage (and my life) was held together by a flimsy latch. I screamed so loud they stopped the whole ride to let me off. Our family still talks about how 4 foot five me brought the entire ride to a grinding stop! But that didn’t stop me from going to get a churro.


  7. we called it candy floss. I loved watching it being spun onto sticks, unlike these days when you buy it in knotted plastic bag. There is more fun eating from the stick and having it glued to your cheeks 🙂


  8. Oh, give me a “Bloomin’ Onion” and a good sheep shearing any day!


    • I love the sheep! And Bloomin’ Onions.


  9. Haha! I would have included most of those on my list too! They have small fairs here, but it’s years since I’ve been to a large one…


    • So far this season we have attended two medium sized fairs. The big one here in New England is the “Big E” – the Eastern States Exposition” – which just opened and runs for TWO WEEKS!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. I’ll take some pierogies, please 🙂 (That’s what sold at “Little Baba’s Kitchen” at my hometown {Ukranian-influenced} fair).

    Most of the greasy stuff – one taste is pretty good but any more = belly ache & barf city, esp after the tiltawhirl!



    • There are good pierogies at the Big E! And yes, most of the food is only good in your mouth, not your stomach.


  11. diane

    I’m starting to have your memories, Lake Compounce, Frank Sinatra, autograph record!


    • Uh-oh! If you start seeing nuns standing menacingly over you…. RUN!


  12. Apple Fritters mean New England fall to me. Oh, I can just smell them …

    I get motion sickness too. Blech!


  13. If you had a fresh, garden salad at a fair or carnival, people would suspect you of being a pinko, commie sympathizer, and with good reason.

    I’m not quite as delicately stomached as you, but I could never handle the Ferris Wheel. They would always go backwards at the end and that did it for me.


  14. At the Texas State Fair, the vendors try to outdo each other with strange things deep-fried. One year it was beer. Don’t ask. But to me, THE food of the state fair is corny dogs. They were invented at the Texas fair many years ago and the inventor still sells them every year.


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