Wednesday, June 19, 2024
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Excerpts by Henry Lane Hull

To assuage my disappointment over not going to the State Fair of Virginia this year, my Good Wife surprised me with a visit to the North Carolina State Fair during the course of a planned visit to the Tarheel State last weekend. The fair is held adjoining the campus of N.C. State University in Raleigh. 

As at every fair, my focus was on the animals and the ones being exhibited at this fair were quite interesting. We watched a judging of young Angus and Charolais heifers and learned from the judge the fine points of evaluating cows. The neck and shoulder muscles and bone confirmation were the areas that he emphasized, indicating the importance of how a cow holds her head. 

With respect to the cows, we saw a prize-winning White-faced Hereford heifer that took me back to my childhood when at five I had one as a pet. She was particularly friendly for a cow, not exhibiting the usual lackadaisical bovine attitude. This cow paid attention to all the fairgoers gaping at her, and she seemed to be as interested in us as we were in her.

The pigs were truly inspiring. A Yorkshire sow was sound asleep, blissfully unaware of any of the onlookers. She had two small piglets sleeping next to her, which I initially thought to be odd, as the sows of that breed often have as many as 16 piglets, then I looked behind her to find another dozen, also snoozing. I restrained myself from hopping over the fence to pet them.

The fair had a fine exhibit of Egyptian geese, all very aristocratic in their bearing, worthy descendants of the pharaohs, who considered them to be sacred. They have a regal bearing, quite unlike that of our beloved Gladys. I wish I could bring one up here to give her a tutorial in proper behavior. The Egyptian geese often are found as subjects of ancient art, perhaps a trait common to the species, as Gladys is identical to the Cotton Patch goose seen on the Heritage Breed U.S. stamp issued earlier this year. Recalling the time many years ago when I drove home from my Good Wife’s native Eastern Shore with a box of six ducklings on her lap, I did not broach the topic of us trying to replicate that trip with a box of goslings similarly situated.

The goat exhibits were captivating. I wanted to take all of them home. At present we are goatless, our faithful old Nubian having died two years ago. The goats at the fair were miniatures, not as friendly as most of that size. Basically, they ignored us, whereas the ones at the Virginia fair two years ago craved being petted and were quite communicative.

The agricultural and horticultural exhibits were also outstanding. The floral displays were splendid, but I found the best presentation to be the bonsai containers with their juniper trees and moss coverings. The blue-ribbon winner was a foot-tall tree in an oval cachepot that had been developed over many years. For success with a bonsai tree, the plant must be periodically removed from the container for the roots to be pruned, exactly as the upper limbs are kept shorn.  This one was probably the best example of bonsai I have seen, and I easily understood why it had won first place.

Being that the focus was on North Carolina products, not surprisingly much attention was paid to tobacco. As a never-smoker, I did not spend much time in that area, preferring to see healthful flowers and vegetables. In the latter category, I concluded that the state must be the pumpkin capital of the world. Five-hundred-pound specimens did not even make the cut, the ribbons going to ones weighing in at over 800 pounds. 

The fair was a great experience, one that reenforced my determination not to miss next year’s Virginia fair.

Rappahannock Record Staff
Rappahannock Record Staff
From the Rappahannock Record news team

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