September 29, 2012 by gossiportsmouth2
As the sun shone down on another part of the country today, we ventured out under the threat of rain to the bosom of New Hampshire’s glitterati — the Deerfield Fair.
Deerfield is a nice drive along Route 4 and 16 from Portsmouth, and as it is leaf peeping time a pleasant viewing experience. Leaf peeping, as we once discovered one evening in our neighbor’s back yard, is the only publicly accepted form of peeping.
Mad props, by the way, to the Chesley Memorial Library in Northwood for their new sign. As an important landmark for directions to the Fair your new sign is not really necessary for most of the year but is pleasant.
The Deerfield Fair, as we tend to believe, harnesses the deepest qualities of human existence: fried food, the Flying Wallenda Family, and Relaxation Grove.
The food options at the fair revolve mostly around that food’s ability to taste good in fried batter. Fried dough is the purest form of this as it is just fried batter. From that base there is a natural progression to onion rings, and then pickles. But this is where the Deerfield Fair seriously falters. What was once the pride and joy of our bellies, the Fair’s fried pickles changed for the worst in 2011 with the introduction of fried pickle spears instead of fried pickle chips. We’re not entirely sure who made this change, but we’re guessing that he or she eats elephants by the spoonful. Writing that last sentence really hurt, but we mean it: fried pickle spears are a gross misrepresentation of the beauty that could be fried pickles. We would rather lick the floor of the poultry barn instead of eating fried pickle spears.
But the Fair’s food is generally on the up-and-up. French fries are plentiful. There are french fries in multiple shapes (curly-q’s for example), but our favorite remains the classic french fry shape. Sweet potato fries are tasty. If one of us swung an arm at the fair the first thing we would have hit would probably have been a child wearing an animal print hat, but the second thing we would have hit would be, well, that child’s sibling also wearing an animal print hat. Eventually, though, we would hit a french fry stand because those things abound like children wearing animal print hats.
Speaking of animal print hats, did we mention the petting zoo? Yep, a petting zoo. It’s not exactly the biggest draw of the Fair but it’s probably the only place you’ll find a kangaroo in New Hampshire. One weird thing about the petting zoo, it has a porcupine. Impressive. A tad ballsy? Yes.
Other food at the Fair that should be mentioned: Nelson’s Fudge. They might only sell four types of fudge in a world that expects flavors like M&M, Oreo, Chocolate Mouth Explosion of Vanilla Bean Curd Aioli, but Nelson’s does not fail in delivering yum yum yum. And yes we fully expect to have diabetes in the next twenty minutes.
The Deerfield Fair brings a great cross-section of New Hampshire together for several days of sheepdog demonstrations and tractor-pulls. And we don’t want to seem judgmental, so we are just going to let you know about the different types of footwear we saw instead of describing types of people. Please read into this as much as you want, but don’t hit your head on the computer screen.
- Boots – From work boots to cowboy boots the mostly male booted crowd walked with a stern look. Interesting note, no one who was actually working with cows was seen wearing cowboy boots.
- Uggs – Admittedly a type of boot, a large percentage of the female population’s feet were adorned with these social indicators.
- Sneakers – Everyone else.
- The Flying Wallenda Family – These are people and not shoes, but are such a delight that they deserve their very own footwear. If you’ve ever heard The Aristocrats joke you’ll also think the Wallenda Family act is extra hilarious and/or inappropriate for a family fair.
The grounds of the Deerfield Fair are consistent from year to year. You know the maple cotton candy is just to the left of the main gate once you go in, and the needlepoint is to the right of the flagpole. You know they will be selling fried Oreos outside of the Made in New Hampshire barn and that cows lift their tails right before dropping a monster load.
And while we might have bad memories of an overcrowded Fair bathroom many years ago, the abundance of port-o-potties is a welcomed sight. That’s not usually a phrase you’d expect, but honestly, the port-o-potties are amazing. The Fair would be like a fried pickle spear if those port-o-potties were absent.
Let’s not forget about the general essence of the fairgrounds: a scenic walkway really, with several offshoots. And the music. There are sounds of sheep bleating and cows mooing intermingled with children laughing and possibly one of the fair rides breaking. We’re not saying we don’t have the gaul to go on adventures, but we are saying that we didn’t fork over any money to go on the tilt-a-whirl of dismemberment.
But you know what adventure we did have? We got to see rows and rows of pickled vegetables and some of the largest pumpkins this side of the Soviet Union. There were jars of jam with ribbons attached to them and pies with one slice removed. There was a blacksmith who bent metal. There was a section of the Fair dedicated to machines that seemed to really only make noise and emit smoke and did really nothing else. A few kids dressed in white took cow milking very seriously. And in one arena pigs went through an obstacle course that looked like nothing more than tall grass. And this is what we love about New England’s autumn: the Deerfield Fair. It caresses the heartstrings better than any crooning boy band and makes you feel good about supporting local agriculture and business. Plus it gives you the opportunity to say “thank you for your service” to all of the cows in the Beef Barn.