• Tag Archives State Fair
  • State Fair, Auld Origins

    Lughnasa                                                                            Waning Honey Extraction Moon

    The state fair has begun:  corn dogs, cheese curds, church run restaurants, politicians of all stripes, trade unionists, farmers and a few cows, horses, pigs, chickens, llamas and rabbits.  Oh, yeah.  That butter sculpture, too.  You know, Princess Kay of the Milky Way.  Or, Queen of the Tao of Dairy.

    State and county fairs, occurring in late summer, are the direct remnants of the Celtic festival of Lughnasa, a first fruits market and holiday week which brought farmers, crafts people, villagers and nobility together.  These festivals had a religious beginning, honoring of some god or goddess whose attributes seemed especially apt, in the case of Lughnasa, the Celtic god, Lugh, a god of many skills, whose foster-mother Tailtiu died after clearing Ireland for agriculture.

    At Lughnasa handfast marriages were made, hands stuck through a hole in a stone wall and held fast blessed a couples trial for a year and a day.  Games and feats of skill played a prominent part during the Lughnasa festivals, too.  Winter lodging for those without homes was also contracted for during these festivals.

    (Lugh had a spear which sought battle, a sling with which he was expert and a raven by his side.  His name means, in Gaelic, long arm.)

    The gathering of such diverse groups as 4-H’ers, beekeepers, dairy folk, farm implement dealers, artists, union workers, political aspirants and hawkers of all kinds makes our contemporary Lughnasa as vibrant and colorful as the originals.

    I don’t know how many year and a day marriages get sealed at the State Fair, but I imagine many relationships begin or deepen during its run.

    However you style it, the State Fair celebrates the many skills and talents in our state and brings folks together.  Lugh, the god of many talents, must feel at home here, too.



  • Lughnasa 2011

    Lughnasa                                                          Waxing Honey Flow Moon

    The third cross-quarter holiday in the Celtic calendar, Lughnasa follows Beltain and proceeds Samhain, thus it cuts the once much longer Beltain season, essentially the growing and harvesting season, in half.  It marks the first fruits of the harvest, a time of gathering in and being nourished by the summer’s heat, the plants’ flourishing.  Lughnasa apparently celebrates the god Lugh, a sun-god, though the relation between him and this festival is uncertain.  The Catholics honor this pagan tradition through the feastday, Lammas, when parishioners bring in bread from the first grains harvested.

    In the old days these festivals lasted a week or more, with farmers coming into the village from the countryside or meeting at a customary spot to set up a market.  Feasting, drinking, games, searching for a mate or for work blended with the serious task of laying up sufficient stores to survive the winter, foreshadowed now by the earlier setting of the sun.

    A remnant of these market fairs continues on in county fairs and state fairs where feasting, drinking, games, searching for a mate or work blends with honoring those who still provide our food.  Yes, we have the grocery store now and no we don’t wonder about surviving the winter, at least many of us don’t, but the old need to come together and crown a Princess Kay of the Milky Way, to sculpt her in butter lingers.

    Lughnasa here at Artemis Hives will find the honey harvest joining the tomatoes, the potatoes, beets, carrots, beans and onions.  It also finds us reaping the harvest of new learning:  Latin, Tai Chi, quilting techniques, potting and celebrating family.  The dogs have become a calmer pack thanks to an investment of time over the last few months.  Mark has made some progress towards a job and a healthier future.

    Celebrate your harvest, too.  Raise a glass of wine or water, eat a meal with friends and loved ones.  Wear a flower garland and go the state fair or the farmer’s market.  Why?  Because these are things we humans have done for centuries, for millennia, they keep us alive and healthy.

  • Trappin’

    Winter                   Waxing Cold Moon

    Got to the stock show at about 7:30 am today.  I was early enough that there was no one checking passes or tickets, exhibitioners had not yet come and there was only one place serving food.  And it hadn’t opened for business.

    Reminded me of the trips I used to take to the Indiana State Fair with my mom.  We went by Greyhound Bus because Mom never learned to drive.  That’s strange, isn’t it?  Just resurfaced as I wrote this.  Because of the Greyhound schedule we would get to the State Fair before the crowds.  Clean up crews would still be sweeping up from the night before and stock exhibitors would be getting their animals ready.  It’s a good memory and one I was happy to revisit.

    While I admired a badger pelt, the man who trapped it came out and we got to talking.  He explained a host of unintended consequences from such things as eliminating the spring bear hunt and limiting trappers in what they can do.

    Colorado’s Dept. of  Wildlife now kills as nuisance bears the same number as bear hunting did.  When the bears were hunted, the populations stayed steady, but with no hunting pressure and the growth of outlying development, bear numbers have skyrocketed. According to this guy, who seemed very balanced. The result is bears forced to forage in urban areas or suburbs because the wild territories have dominant adult animals in them.

    In addition, this guy, a trapper who lives in Summit County, where Breckenridge is, said when he began trapping there were few to no raccoons in the whole county because winter was cold and long, eliminating food sources for enough of the year that it was not good habitat for them. Summit raccoons are now abundant, “You should see a mid-winter Breck raccoon, lotsa fur and fat.”

    He makes his living trapping nuisance animals, mostly wild animals living high off pet food, garbage dumps and even purposeful feeding.  Animals that, again according  to him, could still be managed by trapping as it was practiced.

    I watched Simmental Cattle judging and a junior showmanship event for hogs.  As the place began to fill up, I packed up my purchases, boarded the bus and came back here for a nap.