July 4 reminds me that life in the country, both the nation and the rural kind of country, swings around in circles through the year. When you read this, our Independence Day celebration will be wrapping up, with our parade marshaled by members of the Duxbury Rural and Historical Society. I hope that some of you readers took the plunge and found a way to get you, your kids or your group involved this year. Here’s another way to build memories and put down roots that reach back for generations. Come Aug. 17 – 26, the 145th annual Marshfield Fair opens for the area’s (and the year’s) most intensive gathering of agricultural, horticultural, educational and historical fun. I think of it as Duxbury’s County Fair, and with good reason. It’s a Marshfield event, of course, but you’ll see your neighbors richly represented in exhibits from the 4-H barns to the Country Arts and Crafts and the Agricultural Hall (the flowers and such).
First, some technical tips. You can save a small bundle by planning ahead. Pre-paid (before 6 p.m. Aug. 16) general admission is $7, instead of $10 at the gate (children 6 and under get in free with an adult). You can also buy ride tickets for $22 for 11 tickets, good for all rides at the Fair. Wristband days are a different deal, offered by Fiesta Shows at the Fiesta customer service office on the day of the special (to be announced). They don’t sell them ahead of time at the Marshfield Fair office, and wristbands don’t work for the bumper cars. They never have. Fair parking is available at the “E” entrance to the Fairgrounds, the one on South River Street, near the Marshfield Fire Station. You’ll see lots of other parking, but this is the only one where the proceeds support the Marshfield Agriculture and Horticulture Society, the founders of the feast.
Keep your eyes peeled for Duxbury connections in the barns, sheds and displays. Better yet, try your hand at entering the fray yourself, or with your kids. The competition categories don’t all require months of careful gardening or raising your own breed of goat. Veggie Creatures, for example, have very inclusive requirements: “All creatures will be accepted.” The rules are simple. Nothing artificial, no carving the vegetables, no creatures over 15 inches, parts must be securely attached and self-supporting, and any combination of fruits and vegetables is allowed. The theme is “Go Bananas,” and there are two entry/judging dates, Friday, Aug. 17 from noon to 2 p.m., and Thursday, Aug. 23 from noon to 2 p.m. The latter is Children’s Day, when kids 12 and under get into the Fair for free. Cash prizes run from $8 down, and age classes are 5 - 8, 9 - 17, and 18 and older.
Check the Fair’s Web site at marshfieldfair.org for more information. You may not have time to make a quilt or grow a giant pumpkin, but you and your kids have plenty of time to build a scarecrow, create a creature, or cook and bake. In fact, the cooking and baking competitions on Saturday, Aug. 18 and 25 (two separate events) offer free fair admission to exhibitors arriving before 1 p.m. Registration is from noon to 1 p.m, and costs $1 per entry, which is a hefty sum less than $7 or $10. At the Fair entrance, just show your cookies, macaroni salad, or whatever instead of money. It couldn’t be any more quaint, and once you’re in, you’re in. You could be living your cultural past in the early afternoon, and slinging through the Gravitron into the night. The cooking and baking rules are pretty specific, so read up on the Web site (Exhibitor’s Handbook). The two age classes are “5 - 12” and “Teens and Adults.”
I won’t be volunteering at the Fair this year, but I’ll be around, especially on the weekends. I’ll try to cover the Horse Pulling, the Cow Flap Toss, and the Hillbilly Horseshoes (toilet seats), the good Lord willing and if the creek don’t rise.
Our future is in our past, where the roosters make a racket, the cattle are lowing and the eggs are always fresh and local. Add a demolition derby, team penning (herding cows on horseback), and a monster truck or two, and by jingo, you’ve got a country, all at the Marshfield Fair.