Labor Day weekend is also the weekend of the Geauga County Fair which is held at the Burton Village Fair Grounds. Having been held there for near 200 years it contains all the traditional fair events such as tractor pulls and various shows and judging.
This was the first time I attended the fair since I was a kid of 13. The fair needless to say has changed quite a bit since then in a lot of ways but has remained the same in other ways. Larger that that it was with 3 midway areas containing the expected “Fair Food” and game booths where if you are very lucky, you might win some cheesy prize. Skill has nothing to do with it.
The typical exhibits of agricultural prowess of the young and not so young, cows and chickens and sheep and goats. As well as vegetables and baking and of course – since this is north eastern Ohio – maple products.
I was to meet my cousin there who drove up from NC and was staying at a B&B in the town. So began my drive pout there from Garfield Heights where I current live. About 45 minutes plus or minus traffic. The trip out east to the fair is along the main drag through town, state road 87. Which begins as Chargin Blvd and ends up as Kinsman Road. I pass through and area that contains the upscale equivalent of a strip mall will all the usual upscale chain stores. Even though it’s a Sunday, it is packed with cars of the expected type. BMWs and Hummers and Lexus etc. and then trough upscale exo-burbs. The usual haunts of the nouveau riche and the the current incarnation of the bourgeoisie.
Then down past the Chagrin River and finally into Geauga County initially Russel township the Newbury and finally Burton. The area has grown of course but not as much as one would think since 1963 when my family originally left. More residential and more light industry, which looks to support the area more than anything else. Some additional retail but mostly replacement of the retail that was there in years gone by.
I meet my cousin and her brother’s widow and we walked through the town to that fair grounds which is on the other side of the square and one main street. The main street which used to have a TV/Radio store, 5 and 10, drug store and grocery now has mostly upscale type arts and grafts shops, a local equivalent to a Starbucks and small shops of that nature.
Most of the family farms have gone except for the Amish and a few others that are more seriously run. It is nearly completely white and staunchly conservative. Not the squirrelly tea party kind but conservative. Maybe anti-liberal would come closer.
Pretty much the way of most of non-metro Ohio. Like Portage, Trumbull, Summit – etc. Now this part of Geauga Country is more of the upscale professional type. In the past it had a lot of blue collar workers and middle class support personal who worked in Cleveland or sometimes the outer burbs but nearly all of that has gone. The residents even though they are on technological par with everyone else are still ideologically in the Eisenhower era. And in their own particular world.
So when I read articles like Chris Hedges current piece and those of a similar tone here and elsewhere, I wonder how they will explain the necessity of an major economic and/or political change to the people here and those who were engaged in consumer masturbation at the strip mall I passed. Since their lives seem to be just fine and have little concern or interest in what is going on in Cleveland or Youngstown or Chicago or Miami or Atlanta.
As I wondered the fair grounds and looked at the exhibits and smelled the fried food and animals and such, I felt like I had some how accidentally entered some part of the Shire. Where Wall Street and minorities and sweat shops were comfortably far off and therefore legendary.