I'm not sure I've ever seen the fair so crowded. Inside the buildings was no different, with few exceptions. We had room to browse (and breathe!) while viewing the photography and fine arts displays. We managed to get some fair food, Gianelli sausage sandwiches with onions and peppers. We lucked out and saw magnificent dancers perform in both the African and Indian villages. I picked up some maple candy in the Horticulture Building, to enjoy later, and tried a $1 sample of the new fried rice from MaiLan--words cannot describe that divinity. I fought for some chocolate milk at the entrance to the dairy, but missed the butter sculpture, lacking the fortitude to push my way inside. We ended up missing a lot of other stuff, too: the horses, the giraffes, the chickens, the rabbits, the rides, entire buildings worth of exhibits. I'd been warned that the cows are gone by the last day, so they were one thing I expected not to see.
Sure enough, when we entered the cow barn, it appeared deserted. Most people were simply turning around and leaving, concluding there was nothing to see. But deep inside the darkness of the virtually abandoned, cavernous building, we came across a yearling calf, tethered near her mother. There were kids petting her as we approached, and I hung back, thinking perhaps they'd raised and were caring for these cows. But then they bounded off, to be replaced by other children with outstretched hands, and it soon became apparent these cows were appreciative of the attention of strangers.
So we stepped up and joined the fun, treating the calf like a big dog, letting her smell our hands and stroking her fur. Stop for a minute, and she'd butt her head into your hand, demanding more love. The goats were the same way, sweet and friendly, clambering for attention. This is the aspect of the fair I cherish most: the chance for close encounters with animals most of us live apart from. As a child in the country, we had goats and chickens and a sheep, but I live in the city now, far removed from such creatures. It's not just nostalgia on my part, however. The joy I feel is played out on faces all around, large and small. It's biophilia in action, love of life.