I went to the County Fair

The annual Cattaraugus County Fair in my home County in Western New York has been going on since 1842. That's 171 years. My first memories are from the 1950's, when my Dad, a member of Lions, helped operate a doughnut tent, thanks to a Lion's member who owned a Spudnut shop.

Great memories, especially on the final Saturday when they held the Midget car races, on dirt, on a 1/2-mile track intended for trotter horses. The pits were behind the Lions tent. So I go back when I can and I can honestly say, it hasn't changed much. Here are some impressions.

The 4-H livestock barns are so much fun to walk through. I'm impressed by how family oriented it is.

I don't remember there being equestrian events as a kid. Maybe they were always there and I just didn't take notice. In the background is the line-up of quality trailers for those that have big investments in their horses and other livestock. They stay the week, again, a family event.

For the photographers out there, I know this is a cliche photo. I made a very similar one 40 years ago in Mississippi. But I made the photo because it is so universal, so classic.

As I went through the domestic barn I was struck by how much our society has been affected by our "everyone's a winner" mentality. My two kids have dozens of trophies from sports. Not necessarily for winning, but just for participating. So the same thing appears to have happened here. And not just the pickled goods, just about every category and sub-category entry had a ribbon. It devalues real achievement in my opinion.

This isn't the main midway, it's really behind the trees to the right. But I guess the area couldn't suport the larger rides. I do like the way the still try to separate the travelling rides/concessions from the local. So I could still get a burger from the Little Valley Volunteer Fire Department and a milkshake from the Napoli Methodist Church booths. That was my Mom's church.

A travelling Lumberjack show, from the Adirondack Mtn. area of N.Y. It was entertaining but you could tell how routine the show had become for the three performers, two old, one young. The crowd enjoyed it. In the photo, the old-timer loses a log-rolling competition to the young "challenger."

This is just pure Western N.Y. My sister says the residents are "redneck" by definition. I use the phrase "hillbilly." Both politically incorrect I'm sure. But you have to have lived there.

Yes, you can meet the livestock entries up close and personal. I don't know how you judge chickens, but the girl seemed to be looking for a connection.

Red. A reminder that livestock entered in the Fair are not just a piece of meat. They are family.