A day at the fair during America’s summer of reopening

Jul 29, 2021 by

Carnivals, fairs, and festivals have returned. Beyond face paint and fried food, they’re a chance for Americans to gather communally.

After the pandemic upended so much, even the weirdest things – pig races, machete juggling, fried banana stands – are normalizing.

Yes, we’re talking about the fair, here again after a pandemic-induced hiatus. And if not in your county or state, perhaps the next one over.

Americans are eager to resume the rites of summer passage. Boisterous parades, stock car races, zucchini festivals, and, yes, the iconic local fairs that are so much a part of American culture reveal a nation ready to revel in communal celebration and fried dough.

Fairs are one of humanity’s oldest traditions, and for those making the trek to attend one, it can invoke “archetypal narratives that we intuitively crave, the tale of leaving town and encountering ‘the other.’ It’s the story of the hero’s metamorphosis,” writes our correspondent. We sent him to the San Diego County Fair, where, among the carnival barkers and wild-animal whisperers, he found Americans who, with their newfound freedom, rushed into crowds, driven by the desire to feel communal again. To rub shoulders with strangers heedlessly under a warm sky. To rejoin life en masse.

Some organizers will tell you this year’s fairs are a bit smaller than usual – the pandemic’s effects still lingering. But one worker pointed out another difference: “People are less angry.”

“Nobody’s worried about anything,” she says. “At last. And that’s it, right? What we’ve wanted?”

Suddenly over the loudspeaker comes music and horn blasts you might hear at Churchill Downs. It’s time for the pig race. A voice booms: “Should we bring ’em out?”

The crowd cries out in the affirmative.

Source: A day at the fair during America’s summer of reopening – CSMonitor.com

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