Ooh, it’s science-y!

We made our (mostly) annual trip to the State Fair last weekend. Our usual ritual is to hit the livestock barns first (my husband as a kid often spent summers on relatives’ hog farms in Iowa—he thinks manure smells good) to watch the 4Hers and their animals. If the dairy goats are still in town, we’ll look for Shining Moon Ranch’s Alpines to say hi to Micki and her goats. She was there this year and had practically the whole gang in town—Grant, and Reed and his kids, and Garth and his kids–Colfax grandkids, that is, not more dairy goats. We watched Grant and his crew win a couple of doe groups they showed in, and then we wandered on to other parts of the fair.

The counties exhibits were pretty low-key this year–not so many big and complex mechanical displays as in past years. I imagine state fair displays are among the first items (and rightly so) to be cut from ever-tighter county budgets. The exuberently silly commercial exhibits made up for that, though.

I always forget how entertaining all those sales booths can be. Sometimes it’s the hawkers—the manic guys with the headset mikes touting their superior pots and pans, vegetable juicers, exotic knives, or mops. There are the sneaker-cleaner vendors, who will happily clean one of your shoes in hopes that the dazzling results will make you buy their product so you can clean the other shoe, too. There are the sellers of cheap imported plastic toys and jewelry—this year, a guy at one of them was shouting out, “Fair Trade! All Fair Trade products!” I wonder if that will become a selling point for more of them next year (and whether it will have any basis in reality).

Then there are the exciting high-tech booths: The personalized horoscope place with the mock-up of what looks like a 1950s-era mainframe computer from which your personal individualized horoscope can be printed (for a fee, of course).

And there are the exercise devices. Last time I made my kinesiology-major daughter laugh when I sent her a photo of a vibrating-plate exerciser. This object is similar to those 50s-era machines that wrapped your hips with a vibrating belt to “melt the fat away,” except that there was no belt—you just stand on it or do exercises with specific body parts resting on it. This year there was a major technological advance: instead of just the plain vibrating platform with its attached controls, the vibrating plate exerciser now offered cable pulls from the base, so you can do bicep curls while you stand there getting yourself shaken. At least with this one, you’d actually get some exercise.

The other new health-and-fitness trend this year was “ionics.” A couple of booths were selling “ionic watches,” which looked exactly like the cheap plastic watches you could also buy in some of the import booths. But supposedly when you wear these special cheap plastic “ionic” watches, your arthritis and heartburn and miscellaneous other health problems will be relieved.

Another booth took the ionic trend to a whole new level, offering a snazzy, sparkly, souped-up blood pressure cuff attached to a control box, with electrodes to attach to various parts of the body. In operation, this device’s “ionic wave action” would relieve your arthritis, heartburn, aches and pains, and whatever else happens to be ailing you.

When I asked my husband, the physics guy, what ionic waves were and how they worked, he just made a funny gargling noise.

We passed on the chocolate-covered bacon, too.


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