County Fair

On Line

One dollar off the ticket price with an empty Pepsi can. You and me, and the two little boys, each holding our aluminum like pilgrims outside a walled city.

Biggest Cow in the World

They built a house around her with slats on the bottom so her hooves could show, huge shy ankles like an old-fashioned bathing beauty. The crowd circled her in an odd silence. I looked into her eye. It was as big as a plate and twice as sad.

I Bought A Cap

The caps sat folded one into the other, waiting their turns like good citizens. I chose a beige one, light and uncomplicated. It cost eight dollars! You said forget the money. I put it on. The sun stopped banging. I began to feel like someone else, Great,I thought, an awning, and a disguise.

Unlimited Ride Pass

What fun they had from 2 to 7.The bumper cars sliding like clumsy skaters. The exaggerated clack clack of the roller coaster’s climb. A whistle blew at 7 sharp and all the rides wound down like tops without their spin, the boys left bobbing in a little boat with stricken looks on their faces.


Everywhere the business of food. Big-hatted men basting ribs, ladies in aprons with pies. Picnic tables laid out in rows with tubs of condiments poised like centerpieces at a wedding. We couldn’t get enough. We were making up for lost time. We were catching up on all the years we hadn’t been invited.

The Guy on the Ferris Wheel

He’d been riding for two weeks, day and night, a sign kept track of how long. We photographed him going up. We photographed him coming down. He had pillows and a small TV, a cooler and sunglasses. Hey Jeff, I called and he waved. Then I felt bad, like someone who’d tease an animal.

A Couple of Ride Workers

Behind the haunted house, over some cables, two men with headbands squatted next to a tiny grill. From one side came the fair’s music. From the other, the rush of the freeway. Squeezed between, they guarded their dinner.

The Show

First the dogs, floppy mutts who jumped and flipped and pretended not to listen. Then the death-defying bicyclist pedaling through a wall of flame. We’d seen it all a dozen times. Even the children smiled from the safety net of the familiar. And that was the best part: knowing it already.


So many animals. So many straw filled pens. At night, their whimpers, their fitful sleeping, their owners’ voices saying hush. In the dark, the distance home is so much farther still.