MORRISONVILLE — I scolded myself for forgetting my sunglasses as I walked around the corner and into the Clinton County Fair.
I winced against the sun’s glare, sweat dripping down the center of my back, my armpits wet.
To my right, a towering snow cone and candy apple, a pair of sweet giants, offered no shade as their flapping pink and yellow flags taunted me with an elusive breeze.
But as I glared at Pizza Hut and sticky-faced children gobbling up cotton candy, my mood improved. To my left, excited screams came from a nearby ride and I smiled and recalled fairs of my youth, begging my parents for one more ticket for a final ride.
I turned to walk down an alley of games and persistent carnies when I noticed the giant stuffed dairy cow staring at me from above the water game. I thought for sure he would wink, privy to carnival secrets I could not fathom, but when he remained wide-eyed, I walked on and passed the hall of mirrors, something that consistently causes my chest to tighten each time I see it.
Still, I was excited about the Clinton County Fair, with its promises of animal shows, bumper cars, rides, the demolition derby, kettle corn, chainsaw sculptors, North Country’s Got Talent and a host of entertainment, including master hypnotist Michael Blaine and country singer Hunter Hayes.
And, most importantly, fried dough.
I set off to find a fried dough stand but halted at a sign for a 100-pound rat and headless woman. I knew a live headless woman was impossible, but I wondered about the rat.
I recalled, early in my journalism career, covering a rat infestation at the home of a woman living off social security who could no longer cover her trash bill as costs and taxes rose. A gray quilt of rats surrounded much of her property and some of them were monstrous.