Saturday, October 6, 2012

tennessee state fair 2012

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Just a couple of weeks after I arrived back home from Star Wars Celebration VI, my family and I trekked out to the Tennessee State Fair- pretty much on the opposite side of the spectrum as far as big events go!

The fair actually published a fairly detailed schedule online this year, and since I was still in convention mode (where I lived with a schedule on my iPhone for four days straight), I had scoured it and figured out a loose plan for the day before we arrived. We ended up spending the whole day there- from 9 in the morning until after 8 at night- and packed so much in!

We started off the day with the miniature donkey competition. One of my favorite parts of the fair is seeing all the livestock- something I don't get to do a lot of during my normal computer-and-iPhone-filled city life!

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These little guys were so cute, though some were definitely more cooperative than others.

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The Creative Arts building opened at 10, so we dropped by to check out the scrapbooking competition. I'd entered a few layouts and a mini album and wanted to see how they fared- no pun intended!

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I'm always blown away by all the hard work that goes into the creative arts exhibits. The quilts are among the most incredible- just look at the piecing on the one below!

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And this fun Halloween/Fall quilt was painstakingly appliqued to create each scene- that definitely takes more patience that I have!

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There's always tons of photography on display, too, though I have to admit that I didn't understand the judging in some of the categories at all.

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We attended the fair during the last weekend, so some of the food exhibits (like the baked goods below) were a bit...past their prime (they'd been in the case for almost 2 weeks, after all). But wouldn't you just love to be a judge for this category when everything is fresh?!?

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Next up on my schedule was the Junior Sheep Show, but the way the bleachers were set up made photographing the competition itself a little difficult, so we just walked around the building and admired all the animals instead.

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Neon. It's what all well-dressed sheep are wearing this season.

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I love this guy's fuzzy coat!

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I had to really restrain myself to keep from petting all the animals (since these all belong to other people who might be a little nervous with so many strangers around them, I tried to keep a respectful distance). These two didn't make it easy- they kept poking their noses over the edge of the pen and trying to nuzzle up against us. I wanted to take them home with me!

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All I can say to this photos is awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!!

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Next up was the bunny barn, filled with fluffy adorable rabbits. Warning: this post is most likely to have a higher count for the word "adorable" than all my other posts for the year combined...

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I admit, I was really trying to contain my squeals of glee at being around so many cute little Fluffy McBunnersons at one time!

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The fowl on display were housed in the building right next to the rabbits, so we hopped over there next.

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Dude, get a load of this guy's feet!!

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And do you think this one might have won just a few awards?

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He's very pretty, though, and I can see why.

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OMG, squeeeee! Baby chicks!! Okay, seriously trying to get myself under control now...

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I think we may safely be past the sqee-ing section of this particular trip to the fair, because while I do find plates of home-grown produce to be rather lovely, they are not nearly as adorable as young livestock.

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One day I'm going to have a green enough thumb to grow things like this for myself. And I'll also raise baby chickens. Squeee!! Sorry...

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One of the benefits of having the schedule available online was that I was able to find some educational seminars that we could attend throughout the day, giving us the opportunity to relax and sit down and enjoy a little air conditioning. The first one we attended was on growing giant pumpkins and watermelons like these big boys.

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Darren and I packed plenty of snacks into my backpack before heading in to the fair, but that didn't stop us all from trying just a bit of food from the midway.

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We all passed on the deep-fried Goo-Goo clusters, but Mom did get a chili pie, which they served right in the chip bag!

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I'm mostly a sno-cone girl and don't do a lot of the other candy and sweets that are here, but I did find myself mesmerized by this taffy pulling machine.

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I was a bit less mesmerized by the "creative" spelling on some of the signs. :)

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There's one thing you need to know about me and heights- I hate them. I went with Mom on exactly one fair ride about four years ago, and I was sure the entire time that I was going to die any second. Mom, however, doesn't have that problem, so she's the only one of us who bought a ride wristband (luckily you can get them at a pretty good discount at local stores before the fair starts), and oh, wow, did she have fun using it! She asked me not to post some of the "in ride" photos I took (the facial expressions are uproariously hilarious), but I do have a few photos that I don't think she'd mind me sharing.

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I was able to grab a pretty good shot of D- note that he's carrying my backpack for me. Awww! :)

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Dad was having fun with his new camera- his Canon 5D MkIII is absolutely amazing!

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I just loved the colors on this swing ride and took a ton of photos of it.

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It was getting a bit warm-ish outside (and I'd neglected to bring any sunscreen), so we retreated back inside for the second educational seminar I had on my wishlist, all about raising chickens! I totally want to raise my own chickens one day. 

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We were in the talk for about an hour and a half, which was just long enough for the sky to start getting overcast and for things to cool off a bit.

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We took a quick cruise through the cow barn (where it looked like a bovine beauty parlor complete with livestock-formulated hairspray!!)...

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...and then popped back out onto the midway for more fun on the rides.

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The Yoyo ride is another of Mom's favorites- I even scrapped a page of her and my cousin Michelle on it at last year's fair.

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The fair is always this odd mix of farm animals, carnival rides, and general craziness, and we all wished that there was just a bit more that was "country" about it sometimes. We were all glad, then, to discover a small section off to the side that seemed to move at a slower pace and included some of Darren's favorite things- old motors and engines.

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The motor above had been converted to serve as a grinder for grains, and the one below was running a pair of ice cream makers!

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It was here that I happily slurped down a snow cone before we returned to the midway- at this point we were more or less just waiting around for it to get a bit darker so I could shoot photos of another one of my favorite things about the fair- the lights on the midway at night!

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Mom found another ride she enjoyed (and she may or may not kill me for that photo at the end :) ).

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A visit to Hedrick's Racing Pigs had been on my wishlist for the fair, but unfortunately the arena was crazy crowded and it was nearly impossible to get in to take photos.

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I finally squeezed in between all the kids who were surrounding (and often leaning right over into) the track to get a few shots.

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Funnel cakes are definitely a fair tradition for Dad, Darren, and I (and normally my brother, too, though he couldn't be there with us this year).

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And if you're wondering where I get my love of photographing everything, here's your answer!

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Hi, Dad!

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Soooooo not Paleo. Sooooo not gluten free. But sooooo good!

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Finally it started getting dark enough for the lights to pop out, but unfortunately along with the fall of night came the crowds, and honestly it got pretty scary for a bit.

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We didn't hang around much longer after dark- just long enough for Mom to enjoy a few more of the rides and for Dad and I to take some photos of the lights.

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I love playing with unfocused light shots!

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And a few shots of the lit-up food booths (they're always so colorful) before we headed out.

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The State Fair is one of those fun traditions I like to do with my family every year, and it's also a great reminder that even though I work programming computers in an office for most of the week, I'm still a country girl at heart who loves her home-grown vegetables and dreams of one day having her own coop full of chickens.

I'm also a girl who's very grateful that Darren, even though he wasn't feeling great, still stopped at Archivers for me on the way home- such a nice thing to do!