25 Sep 2012

The Nantucket County Fair

Nantucket County Fair

Fall is in the air here on Nantucket. The change in temps brings with it the anticipation of a new season of island festivities. Whaler football games, scallop season and the annual Nantucket County Fair. I attended my first ever island fair out in Tom Nevers last weekend. I was reminded what the country group Lonestar has to say about the county fair. “Down at the county fair…big time, big top, big crowds, big hair. There’s nothing bigger all around…the country anywhere…than the county fair.”

I’m an Iowa girl and no stranger to county fairs. As a teenager, it was one of the biggest social events of the summer. An opportunity to dress up in your best Wrangler blue jeans, pull on your Frye boots and spend a couple days with friends eating funnel cakes, admiring blue ribbons and trying to impress the small town boys. I even tried my hand at County Fair Queen (I was a runner – up, Taylor County had a whole lot of “purdy girls”). Some of my best memories as a teen took place at the county fair.

Last week’s Nantucket Island Fair offered kids and adults the same opportunities for making great memories. There were similarities to my Iowa county fair. Livestock was presented (a wide variety of chickens, sheep and even a few piglets). Produce was judged (there were some HUGE peppers!) as was an assortment of food items (jellies, jams and baked goods). Live music took center stage both days. Fried dough and hot dogs were in abundance….as were the cute girls in their blue jeans (although it appears Wranglers are no longer in vogue).

There were some notable differences between Nantucket’s fair and any other I’ve attended in the Midwest. The American Legion food tent showcased fried scallops, Quahog fritters, bluefish pate and littlenecks on the half shell. There was a scarecrow building contest, a surf-casting contest and a corn husking competition – one the announcer affectionately referred to as the “Shuck Off.” (You can’t make this stuff up folks). Perhaps the most significant difference between our island fair and any other is the location. In my county in Iowa, the fairgrounds are located near several hundred acres of corn and bean fields. The Nantucket County Fair is held on a bluff overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It was quite a scene.

Nantucket offers something for locals and visitors during every season of the year. Fall is one of my favorites. The ocean is still warm, all the shops and restaurants are open, the crowds have thinned and it’s no longer impossible to find a parking spot downtown. It’s not too late to book a last minute trip to the island to enjoy the fall festivities. If you missed the Nantucket fair last week, make plans now to bring your friends or family and join the fun next year. You too can build a scarecrow, throw a skillet or step right up for the Shuck Off.

Fair Enough.

Shellie Dunlap

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