It's that time of year again when the agricultural community of Wayne County Ohio gather together to compete and show off their prize animals and crops. Held at the fairgrounds in Wooster, I was first introduced to the spectacle 4 years ago, just a week after moving here from the UK, by my soon-to-be wife. "You have to experience it" everyone was telling me. That first visit took place on the day all the local school children have free tickets, so the crowds were huge. It was like walking through Piccadilly Circus in London during christmas rush hour.
The sights and smells of a fairground, certainly in the western world, are pretty familiar to most people, but added into the mix here are the large numbers of animals that are brought in for far and wide to compete in the arenas. The scent of cotton candy and hotdogs mingle with the heady aroma of cattle and sheep byproducts at times, despite the distance between them.
People are everywhere, and are a broad mix of demographic, albeit mainly white. Elderly affluent white middle class types rub shoulders with down to earth enthusiastic young rednecks as they queue for ice cream or jossle to get a good view of the animals in the competition arenas. The atmosphere is relaxed and friendly, and it's a great way to experience a part of real America, one that's a million miles from the insanity of cable news. Well mostly anyway. Getting caught in a conversation of any length with people here soon leads to politics, and with seldom a good thing to be said about any of it. The rebel flag may no longer be flying in South Carolina, but was on sale here. Things change I guess, but slowly in some cases, and I suspect it's a part of the culture I still struggle to understand, being foreign and all.
This year I wandered down the day after the endearing madness of student day, so the crowds were a little thinner thankfully, although still plentiful. I missed last years fair so I was determined to attend and shoot some pictures this time. The great thing about places like the fair is they are a goldmine of photo ops for candid photography.
Characters of all shapes and sizes present themselves at every turning, and the hard part becomes which photo op to take at times. I had a fun time in the couple of hours I spent roaming around. It's a hugely popular family day out and recommended for any photographer who likes not having to wait too long between shots. See you next year.