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A day at the Fair

As August comes to an end, Fair Season begins. I stopped by Northampton's Tri Country Fair today, and shot some pictures . . .

The first thing you see upon entering the fairgounds are the tractors. Here's a big Farmall diesel:

Farmall was the agricultural tractor division of International Harvester. This particular rig has 150 horsepower, and dates from 1975.

Moving out onto the Midway, you encounter seasoned carnies waiting to lure you into games of chance. Here's one right now:

As you can see, the sign lays it out. Have a great day. No Refunds. No Exchanges. Five dollars.

Hardened Polish farmers from Hatfield and Whately stand under the glare of unshielded neon fixtures and go nose to nose with the Florida carnies. It's amazing that they don't fight more often than they do, because the name here says it all . . .

I can see Joe-Joe now, all 320 pounds of him. A pint of whiskey in his pocket and a shotgun on the counter.

I passed those games by and headed for the real action, chanpionship Pig Racing. Northampton ran its last horse races in 2005. The pigs are the only live action left. And as you can see, the betting windows are open:

The first races started at 12:15 sharp, and I pushed and shoved my way through the crowd to get a seat by the rail at the second turn. As soon as I got seated, they were off!

Pigmaster was favored three to one, and most of the money was on him, but in this shot you can see Pigster (a 20-1 underdog) moving smartly into the lead. The crowd is cheering, and the kids have a wary eye and their hands held high. Last year, a tyke lost a finger to a hungry porker on this very turn.

But pigs aren't the only hazard on this year's fairgrounds. We also have Tornados. Here's the warning sign above ours:

After the Running of the Pigs, I collected my money and headed out into the midway to shoot some of the rides:

I'll go back this evening. The fairs are always better at night, as the crowd gets drunk and wild. About five o'clock they take down that "shoot till you win" sign, because they know better.

At 7, there's a demolition derby. Place your money now.

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I lived in South Hadley, just down the road from Northampton, for 3 1/2 years as a student and never went to the County Fair. What  a lost opportunity! The pig races look like a hoot. I'm glad to have now at least experienced the fair through your eyes and lense. Thanks.