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It can’t be summer without the fair

SPRINGVILLE –– I tried chocolate-covered bacon. To my husband’s chagrin, I actually loved it and would probably make it at home if it did not set me back – yes, I checked – more than 600 calories. And I will probably try a donut burger on my second trip to the Erie County Fair before it closes, this weekend.

Summer is winding to a close, offering a bittersweet ending to the past few months of warm weather and trips to the beach. Although the cold winter is looming ahead of us, Western New Yorkers can still enjoy many late-summer treats that we have been looking forward to all year. The fair is one of those.

When I was growing up, my family never missed a trip to the Erie County Fair. I was the first kid in line at the Niagara Mohawk exhibit, in which the demonstrators would scare us into keeping our hands and feet away from fallen electrical wires. I would pick a piggy in the pig races and cheer on the littlest one of all, as he swam across a small pool of water, pink feet flying.

I coaxed my younger siblings onto the various carnival rides and collapsed, green-faced and queasy, onto a nearby bench with my brother after being spun in a circle one too many times.

Fascinated, I toured 4-H exhibits, petting calves and peering at intricately-carved wood submissions, half ashamed of my own lack of creative talent, but, at the same time, bursting with pride at seeing friends and acquaintances’ taking home blue, red and white ribbons.

I feasted on fried dough, candied apples, kettle corn, birch beer, Greek gyros, shark shish kebobs and this year, for the first time, chocolate-covered bacon.

The fair is more than a seasonal event. It’s an adventure that needs to be thoroughly explored. Even if it means I have to bite into a strange, maybe disgusting, product of a crazy person’s imagination, I want to experience every part of this, my favorite summer tradition.

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