The County Fair Comes But Once a Year.

Hip hop tots in spandex and kiawe smoked chicken, teenagers screaming, wilting baked goods on the prize table, cankled hogs in the 4-h tent, hello kitty themed quilts and prize winning jackfruit... it can only be the county fair.

The county fair turns familiar Kauai into a stranger, like drag queen make up and stage lighting. Throngs of people who are otherwise in different orbits-- middle schoolers and fashionable 20 years old parents-- show up to pat the duckies and piglets and ride the ferris wheel and buy Hawaiian T-shirts with bleeding skulls and shark teeth logos.

Old ladies coddle their fussy little orchids and arrange them behind miniature white picket fences snuggled with dusty teddy bears, uncles bring in their pampered roma tomatoes and gawping achiote pods, kids haul out their mini-lego worlds. The 4-h kids feed their steers and hogs and shear their lambs and spritz their goats, tuck in their shirts behind their gleaming metal belt buckles and carefully batton their hair into french braids to get ready for the livestock show.

The county fair is exciting. Dusty, hot, loud, chaotic, thronged, pricey.

I brought my kids to see the fun and meet up with Daddy in the livestock tent where he was patiently guiding the 4-h program to a bloodless conclusion. For the humans, at least. RJ petitioned mightily for some rides on the fairground-- I prepped her for the scariness and danger and thought she would want me or daddy with her, but she measured herself against the "you must be this tall" arrow, said, "I'm big enough!" and went all by herself. She seemed miniature, 2 feet tall next to all those big kids and noisy machines. I waved and cheered as she came into view and chewed my nails when her little car or helicopter whiplashed her out of sight. It's a landmark-- her first county fair as a-person-who-goes-on-rides. In a minute she'll be showing her own steer, or putting on her own experimentally dramatic eye makeup, meeting up with her own friends to tempt gravity. Another county fair!


  1. there's a song that I just loved years and years ago...."turn around and she's two, turn around and she's 4, turn around and she's a young girl going out of your door...."


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