Heat slows opening of fair to ideal crawl 48th annual event can't be rushed

August 16, 1993|By James M. Coram | James M. Coram,Staff Writer

The weather was ideal: a shirt-clinging, brow-mopping heat that caused people to slow down and blend perfectly with the opening of the 48th annual Howard County Fair.

A tour of the fair, which seems more like a sprawling open air museum than a carnival, despite the rides and amusements, cannot be rushed.

As you enter, there are the pony rides, where 3-year-old Kristin Strollo of St. Louis, Mo., sat tall in the saddle as though she has been riding all her life. No fawning or oohing and ahing for her.

And when she dismounted, she was asked what she liked best. "It was real," she said.

Her mother, Sharon, who used to live in Catonsville, explained that Kristin has pictures of ponies all over her walls at home, but this is the first time she has been with them up close.

Across from the pony rides is a "touch me tent," in which visitors share space with goats, llamas, turtles, pigs, chickens, miniature horses, and snakes.

Yesterday, a pot-bellied pig was stealing the show, wagging its tail like a dog, rooting through wood-chips, and delighting everyone who stopped to pet it. "Look, Jack, see the pigs!" a mother called to her 2-year-old son.

Across from the pig was a man holding a ball python. "Oh, shall we let Jack pet him?" Jack's mother asked. Jack's father looked for a moment and frowned. "Ah, I think not," he said.

David and Laura Cook, of Baltimore, were attending the fair for the second year in a row with their children, Angela, 7, and David, 4. "It gets you out of the city atmosphere," said Mr. Cook.

Angela agreed. She loved the fun house, but cried when her brother got lost in the ghost house. Young David was not keen on that, either. When asked what he liked best, he pointed to an exhibit shed where prime steers were being displayed. "He loves to pet them," his mother explained.

Kelly and George Snouffer, of nearby Lisbon, brought their 11-month old son, Christian, to the fair to see his first parade. He seemed more interested, however, in the cotton candy.

"The food here is great," his father said.

On the midway, where barbecue smoke permeates the air, the food tantalizes the taste buds. But in the exhibit centers, pastries, baked goods and vegetables are for visual pleasure only. Many have blue ribbons attached to them.

Each of the baked goods has a piece cut from it, but none is for sale. All food entered in contests has to remain on display through Saturday night as do the displays of prize-winning honey.

Jack Lannuzzi scoffs at the idea that anyone might buy prize-winning honey and eat it on prize-wining biscuits right there at the fair. Unlike the tomatoes, which will have become over-ripe by the end of the week, the honey will be taken home or entered in another fair. Quilts, clothes, crafts, and children's art also are for viewing only. In fact, much of the fair is exactly that -- something to see.

Car buffs, for example, can see a yellow Duesenberg roadster with a rumble seat, a 1910 Buick, or virtually any American car from the 1950s and early 1960s.

Or music lovers could listen to the Baltimore Colts Marching Band play show tunes. And many people gathered in the shade at the horse ring to watch nine, two-horse teams compete.

The fair will continue through Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Special events will be held each day.

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