It’s Just Better ~ Tunbridge World’s Fare Part Deux
When I’m not huffing Vicks VapoRub®, canoodling, or making embarrassing typos like “right up your ally,” I’m culling the herd of Deep Thoughts in my noggin to fill again this humble space for your amusement. This week’s deepest thoughts were memories of when, years ago, a friend and I were seeking a place to live and kept driving across the border between Vermont and New Hampshire looking at towns that came recommended. Every time we crossed into Vermont, we breathed easier. “It’s just better,” she said. Which I propose now, 15 years later, as our new state motto. No disrespect to the Granite State.
One reason Vermont rocks is its annual Tunbridge World’s Fair, or as one fan put it, “Sugar, lights, grease, noisy crowds…wow, an American dream.” We go for the music, the animals, native Vermonters, rides, maple cotton candy, games of “skill”, and that blend of meats you can’t get at home—and wouldn’t want to but somehow crave once a year. It’s a draw, not a drawback.
Happily, this year’s Dairy Costume Class was the best ever. That’s where kids dress up their young cows and selves in sartorial representations of, say, Surgeon and Nurse. The three winners were Cop and Criminal, Burger and Fries, and Milk and Cookies, all brilliantly realized.
When the real-life cop manning the Applause-O-Meter pointed to the girl of Cop and Criminal, I yelled, “Lady cop!” and the guy next to me cried, “Conflict of Interest!” It’s that kind of gig and is my favorite, along with the Livestock Cavalcade (Supreme Dairy Cow, crazy goats, crazier humans in goat carts), which is second only in audience participation to the Coin Drop Cavalcade motorists enjoy on the way in.
I also like to vote on the Art and view the dioramas comprising the Children’s Decorated Vegetables. This year’s eyecatchers were the quilts, and a child’s ridged, skinny squash painted like a blue whale. Remarkable! Outside, my dad ran into an acquaintance in the know. This man said there used to be a Dance Hall where the maple hut now is, and the point was “to go in with your wife, and leave with somebody else’s,” (hey, it was the 60s) and that one year there was “mud wrestling.” Here’s the convo:
Upper Valley Girl: Mud wrestling?! In the Beer Hall?
Knowledgeable Man: No, in the field behind the barns.
UVG: Oh, some kind of impromptu free-for-all after a rainstorm?
KM: Let’s just say this was not a fair-sanctioned event.
UVG: It was ad hoc?
KM: It was more than that.
Sorry I missed it! Thank you, Knowledgeable Man. We didn’t get into the Girlie Tent years. Way my mom tells it, my great-grandfather was kicked out of the house in Barnard for having come home with lipstick on his collar from that particular “attraction.” As my Dad tells it, it was something to do with a Girlie woman named “Sally.” What I wouldn’t give to have seen any of it, them in a lather in their old-tymey garb and pre-deodorant BO.
This, the 139th year, was the Year of the Chicken and Rabbit. I personally didn’t see much of either except in the overpriced box of greasy popcorn chicken I hauled around for 2 hours before chucking. You can only eat so many of those babies—unless you’re one of the Harringtons of Pomfret, in which case you can eat a whole bucket while watching the Larkin Contra Dancersfor hours on end.
Ah, the TWF. Well, another reason Vermont is so cool is the community vibe. I’ve been lonely in big cities but, upon achieving the Green Mountain State, never so. The laffs are early and often even at choir rehearsal, where everyone reverts to high school chorus behavior and a mosquito laden with EEE, West Nile Virus, and malaria can put the fear of God where it belongs—into the tenors.
So if you’re looking to relocate and you want nutty events and community—and hairy people in pilly sweaters with animal fur on them who don’t dye their hair or shave properly (Green Mountain casual) —it could be for you. It’s also a good place to get zuked. That’s when you leave your car unlocked and someone puts a giant, unwanted zucchini in your back seat. Lock your doors. Good day.