Duke Cannon's Guide to Your Local Fair

It’s now officially Fair Season, which means all around this fine nation of ours the masses will soon be descending on formerly open plots of land now dotted with livestock, rides, farm equipment and endless rows of stands selling food no competent physician would recommend. But before you head to your local fair (county, state, what have you), we thought it would be nice to provide a handy review of the things we particularly look forward to during our annual visit (OK, fine—visits).


Duke Cannon generally observes the “breakfast is the most important meal of the day” axiom, except on days he attends the fair. On these occasions we fast in order to be operating at peak hunger as we travel from booth-to-booth inhaling corn on the cob, corndogs (if you prefer Pronto Pups, well, hey—it’s a free country), medieval-sized turkey legs, pork chops on sticks, and whatever else happens to pass into our field of vision or range of smell.


It cost you a lot of sweat (not to mention damn near $20 worth of tickets), but the pride you feel as you swagger through the midway holding that 4-foot blue gorilla aloft like it’s the Stanley Cup is worth it. That teenager in the game booth clearly glued the milk bottles to the table but his subterfuge was no match for your fastball, so drink in the admiring gazes of the crowd parting before you as if you are some sort of King, or at least a fairly recognizable local news anchorman.


Anyone who knows Duke Cannon will tell you that pies are something that are always on our radar. And yet, we have never been asked to judge our local fair’s pie contest. We’re not sure who’s palms have to be greased to correct this oversight, but nonetheless we attend this event faithfully every year, sizing up each entry with our usual professional grace. And Mabel, if you’re reading this: we still say you got robbed of the blue ribbon in back in 2019.


Duke Cannon isn’t a farmer by trade, but he lives a “farm curious” lifestyle. By this we mean that we have always been fascinated by agricultural machinery—combines, harvesters, tractors, loaders, etc.—and any fair worth its salt has a decent-sized chunk of its overall footprint dedicated to displaying row after gleaming row of these glorious workhorses. As a youngster we used to sit in them and pretend to—well, thresh, we suppose—and to be honest
we’ve never stopped.


We love horses. That’s it.


We understand that the general perception of us is that we are a died-in-the-wool carnivore. But the fact is that Duke Cannon does enjoy a range of vegetables, and that goes double for when they are carefully grown and nurtured to gigantic size. We’re not exactly sure how one goes about consuming a 16lb tomato or a pumpkin that can only be moved with the aid of an industrial hand truck, but we’re willing to give it a go.


God only knows who assembled this contraption, or what their qualifications were. The truck trailer it came in isn’t much bigger than a Subaru, which makes no sense. And the ride itself is making sounds not unlike a WW2-era air conditioner. And yet there you are, standing in line waiting for your turn to ride the damn thing. And then when it’s over, and you feel lucky to have survived, you get right back in line for another go.