The Middletown Grange Fair has been around for seventy-four years. Bryan has been going annually since he was a wee toddler. Remembering that he hadn’t been able to go in two years because of the pandemic, Bryan started his “When are we going to the Grange Fair this year?” questioning back in May. He was so eager to return and join in the fun once again.
The evening traditionally starts off with dinner. This year the chicken dinner was a little different than in the past, but quite delicious. Bryan eagerly tucked into his 1/4 roasted chicken, corn on the cob slathered with butter, creamy potato salad, homemade baked beans and a fresh roll. The icing on the cake was a chocolatey, cream-filled gob (or whoopie pie for those from eastern PA) like Grandma used to make. Not a crumb was left of the feast. The annual Tractor Parade roared around the grounds while we ate.
Deciding that going on the midway rides right away after that yummy meal was not a good idea, we toured the animal pens, climbed aboard a front end loader and looked at the display booths. There were many less displays and wares for sale than in the past. That fact was disappointing.
Time for the best part for Bryan – the rides! We dodged the the marauding bands of adolescents full of raging hormones to buy our ride tickets. The noise from the rides and booths touting games of chance was deafening. The crowds pressed in on us. I guess I am too old for all of this cacophony and confusion. I couldn’t wait to go to the quieter part of the fair. Bryan didn’t even seem to notice. The first and favorite ride of the night was the Cliff Hanger. Bryan and Dad laid face down on their still-full stomachs ready to fly into the sky. “Like Superman”, Bryan said. After gliding in a circle parallel to the ground, the mammoth arm lifted all into the air as if they were birds in flight. I told Bryan he should put his arms out in front of him like Superman, but he clung to the bar for dear life.
Next was the Ferris wheel – boring in comparison – but with great views of the fairgrounds beneath. Four revolutions and they were done. Underwhelming. Bryan went back to the Cliff Hanger for one more go ’round.
Then, since the nice man at the Ferris wheel declined to take his tickets, Bryan was able to do one more thing. He joined the smaller children with their parents to tackle the obstacle course called the Fire Academy. I’m betting it made him feel like a real firefighter. Seeing the smaller children buzz pass Bryan with skillful agility was a little sad to me, but not Bry. He pressed on, oblivious to the little ones, climbing the ropes, swaying on the wooden bridge and sliding down the final tube slide with arms crossed over his chest. He was so proud of himself when he landed on the soft mats at the end of the slide.
We toured the buildings full of handmade quilts, homemade baked goods, and homegrown vegetables and fruits on display. Bryan made a small shelter to protect the bees when it is raining, helped by a kindly beekeeper. He said he will put it on his deck railing.
But the evening would not be complete until the final act of getting some freshly made kettle corn. You’d think that with all of that food in his tummy, there would be no more room for anything else. With the aroma and the still-warm kernels beckoning from the plastic bag, he was not to be denied! Munching away, we headed home.
And so ends another Grange Fair – in the books. We had a great time – just the three of us – with the hope that the fun will continue next year with no more Covid interruptions.
The Grange Fair hearkens back to a simpler time when Bucks County was largely an agrarian community full of bucolic fields full of corn and grain with cows grazing and farms dotting the landscape. Much of that has changed with the coming of large housing developments and shopping centers, our population burgeoning at the seams. Even so, the fair continues onward to it’s 75th year, reminding us of our roots, and bringing Bucks Countians together in a unique way. We were glad to be among them.