Toad in the Hole

July 06, 2006

County Fair

We spent the Fourth at the Marin County Fair. We last did this, oh, maybe five-ten years ago because Beausoleil was playing, and we did it again this time for the same reason. Nowadays just everybody has llamas and potbellied pigs and such at their county fairs, but Marin's back then had those and more other exotics than we'd expected, and one of its competitions, along with the pie-baking and jam-making, was monster-building, sponsored by Lucasfilms. (Skywalker Ranch is of course in Marin.)

The livestock this year included Clydesdales and draft mules and a good-sized Duroc sow, llamas, pleasure horses, assorted cattle (Joe: "Hey is that one a them Gurneys?") and sheep and goats, rather a lot of handsome chickens including my favorite breed*, Millefleur; ducks and geese and pigeons. By the end of the last day, several critters had presumably been taken home away from the crowds and heat.

*Apparently not a breed but a color/pattern variation of Belgian bantams, maybe others. Still the prettiest chickens I know of.

No giant anteater in the petting zoo (see comments on the post before this) but there was a little wallaby. Lots of Lucas stuff, including Empire soldiers hanging out in armor among the Exploratorium-flavored hands-on science stuff and modelbuilding and such crafts. The nexus of sci-fi and county fair and Marin-elegant craft was nifty as always.

E.g. chicken quilts:
Chicken Quilt

And a chicken tote, big enough to tote a chicken or two but probably made with other cargo in mind:

Chicken Tote

And ceramics -- dang, I keep forgetting I can't rotate shots taken with the small camera, but no way was I going to schlep the big one through the fair. Anyway, the hands here are about adult-lifesized:

Chicken, um, Sculpture

Here's a model, labeled "Squird," that made me think of PZ Myers:


In a nod to the County Fairness of the thing, the Weinermobile was present.


We looked in -- the vinyl floorcovering features a big squirt of mustard -- but neither of us sang the jingle. I know you wondered. The two young women shepherding the immobile Weinermobile gave us each a teeny red plastic weiner whistle, though. I'm going to stop thinking about that right now.

We got to the funnelcake stand at exactly the right moment -- no line to speak of, and we had to wait about half a minute for the funnelcakes to come out of the fryer. I didn't get to take a picture because we just sat down in the shade and ate. Perfect -- light. crisp, and shedding powdered sugar all over us.

And Beausoleil's second (as far as I can remember) appearance at the Fair was great; they did a blistering set, and sold copies of the new 30th anniversary live-performances CD at the back of the tent. The usual dancers were usually dancing, though two-stepping on a grass surface is a bit different. So here's a shot for Vibrating Liz:

Mike Doucet

Whirly dancers and all.

We're so damned old we went home before the fireworks.

Posted at July 6, 2006 05:54 PM


Rich and I were on vacation and saw a bald eagle and the huge nest. I thought of you and Joe.

I am getting 2 chickens for the backyard. I need to build a chicken tractor though. I will get advice from you on the beautiful ones you were talking about.

Did ya hear that Rich lost his job?

Posted by: Janis at July 6, 2006 07:06 PM

'T'a FUCK???!!? I thought he just got a promotion? Ow! Dang, corporations are a treacherous lot.

I hope he gets some hammock time in before he finds a new one, tho'.

Millefleur chickens are not only pretty, they're apparently good backyard chickens. The Flatland Flower Farms folks had some when they were in a little house on Blake Street way down by San Pablo Avenue.

I showed Joe your post.
Joe: "Maybe he should take the hint and go into barbecue.
Me: "For a living?"
Joe: "He has the gift."

Just be sure he knows which chickens are which.

Damn, though.

Posted by: Ron at July 6, 2006 09:06 PM

Sounds like a great day.

Janis, I have two coworkers who have both made chicken tractors this spring. They've done a lot of research. I'll ask Shaun to divulge his secrets here.

Posted by: Pica at July 7, 2006 02:12 PM

Janis, meet Pica, and vice-versa. You two would enjoy each other IRL, I think. Have a look at each others' blogs, whydoncha. Pica works at UCDavis.

Looking into the Millefleur chicken thing, I'm coming to believe that it's not a breed but a color variation found in Belgian bantams, and maybe other breeds too, I don't know. They're still the prettiest chickens I've ever seen.

Posted by: Ron at July 7, 2006 04:19 PM

I LOVE wiener whistles! No, they don't bear thinking about too deeply, but you can play little tunes on them, and they look like hot dogs, and how great is all that?

Of course, what I really want to know is whether wallabies like being pet as much as anteaters.

Also, I am impressed by the amount of work that went into that quilt.

Posted by: Sara at July 7, 2006 05:49 PM

i really shoulda gone to the fair.

Posted by: kathy a at July 8, 2006 02:48 AM

Yeah, that looks just like me!

Posted by: PZ Myers at July 10, 2006 01:19 PM

Must be the rolling eye, PZ, or maybe the alert posture. You do have big yellow feet, right? Or am I thinking of someone else?

It has occurred to me that those monster/alien-designing contests would be improved by requiring some biological or evolutionary explanation, or at least anatomical background, for the phenotype.

Posted by: Ron at July 10, 2006 04:06 PM