As y’all may know, I just adore animals—especially the little ones. There’s nothing sweeter than watching a calf learn to stand on wobbly legs or a fuzzy duckling dawdle after its momma. But I hold a special place in my heart for piglets, and I’m not saying that just ‘cause I love bacon. They are the funniest little creatures. Like me, they get so excited. I get a kick out of their happy, high-pitched squeals. And let me tell you, those little buggers are smart and fast. You can cuddle up with them for a minute or two, but if they wiggle outta your arms, you can bet you’re gonna get a workout trying to catch ‘em again—a game my family seems to enjoy watching.
One of the best ways I know to get up close with adorable animals is to make a trip to the county fair with your family. It’s one of my favorite summertime activities. The local farmers show off their wares and the 4-H kids proudly parade their animals to a panel of judges, hoping to earn a ribbon. When I was growing up, I remember meeting the biggest hog I ever laid eyes on at a county fair. She must’ve weighed a ton. And was she a beauty! Her owner had scrubbed up her pink skin and buffed her hooves. You could tell from the way that sow was batting her long eyelashes that she knew she had it going on. She strutted her stuff for the judges and won “Best in Show.”
‘Course you can’t have a county fair without the food, and you know the kind I’m talking about—delicious Funnel Cakes dusted with powdered sugar and hand-cut curly fries covered in cheese. But as a little girl, my favorite was checking out all the wonderful pies and cakes that were waiting to be judged. Those homemade piecrusts were baked golden brown with a light egg wash that made them shine and it nearly killed me to see the fruit filling peeking through. I’d have given my right arm just for a taste, which is probably why Momma kept such a tight hold on me.
All this reminiscing got me thinking about creating some county-fair inspired recipes of my own. Many are new twists on old favorites, like my Outrageous Caramel Apples and Old Time Chocolate Fudge that are sure to win “Best in Show.” And there’s nothing better on a summer day than a tall glass of lemonade, but for a real thirst-quenching showstopper, you’ll want to try my Sparkling Sweet Cherry Lemonade.
The county fair, with all its furry friends and food, is a timeless, American tradition that I hope never goes away. It’s a refreshing taste of small-town fun that always leaves me with a bushel of memories, a full heart and an even fuller belly.