By Matt Hansen, Phase I Fellow
After months of hype and preparation, it finally came. It was the talk of the town and the best thing since the Maple Festival. That’s right folks, the Highland County Fair took over Monterey last week for four days of pure, unadulterated, deep-fried family fun. And boy oh boy did it live up to the hype.
Fellows were busy all week assisting with everything from setting up the vegetable and canning areas to judging posters about livestock. The events of Friday afternoon were a personal highlight for me. The afternoon started with me getting to judge the sheep costume contest. This is exactly what is sounds like - kids dress up their sheep in costume and everyone gets first place. Immediately after, we wandered over to the music tent, sat down with some onion rings, and watched an Elvis impersonator take the crowd on a trip through time, back to their days of youth. Such a sequence of events might seem rattling in any other context, but it felt only natural at the Highland County Fair.
Another source of excitement and entertainment was the Demolition Derby, which many of the Fellows got to experience for the first time. For those of you that have not experienced a Demolition Derby, this is a staple at small county fairs, in which beat up cars adorned with spray paint go about crashing into each other until there is only one car running. I’m not sure where all of these people have been hiding, but it seemed that everyone and their mother came out for a night of hootin’ and hollerin’ and to watch the madness unfold. Rumor has it that AMI is sponsoring a car for next year’s derby, so be on the lookout for that.
Now onto the main event, the one that everyone came to see, which is, of course, the vegetable entries. Fair goers came from far and wide to get those burning questions answered. Who has the biggest onions? Whose beets are the most uniform? It was a real who’s who of Highland County vegetable producers.
Though we questioned a couple of the vegetable judge's calls, it was regardless a pretty good week for our vegetables. AMI was dominant in the onion department, with different Fellows taking first, second, and third place for largest onion. We also had a respectable showing in the canned goods department, and in the end, the Fellows walked away with at least enough prize money to buy a communal bag of chocolate chips.
Overall, I give the Highland County Fair two thumbs up.