On Saturday September 26th four of our international students traveled the short distance up Rt. 5 to experience the 69th Annual St. Mary’s County Fair. Despite a cloudy sky and a few showers, the group had a great time exploring the culture of St. Mary’s County. If you couldn’t already tell from our surroundings, the history of St. Mary’s is deeply rooted in agriculture, and that was evident when we first stepped foot on the fairgrounds and saw tractors, pigs, sheep, cows and barrels of hay!
Before exploring the livestock area, we visited the local Sheriffs table which presented a prime opportunity for photos and tinkering with handcuffs and other police gadgets. As we continued, we explored exhibits jam packed with goods submitted by local residents. Goods on display included beautiful photos, many depicting the prized Maryland Blue Crab, gorgeous baked goods, fruit and vegetables. As part of the fruit section, there was a contest for the largest watermelon and first place weighed in at a whopping 82 lbs! When we finally made it to the livestock area, we noticed that the bunnies had been ranked and learned that they are judged on a variety of criteria, including ear type and eye color! Who knew?
In addition to the local agricultural exhibits, there were also tables set up for local businesses, churches and political parties. We found the Republican table particularly interesting because they were offering candy corn to place in the mason jar of your favorite presidential candidate.
And, of course, a fair would not be a fair if there weren’t rides! There were dozens of rides and happy children running around despite the dreary weather. A few of us decided to try out the “Round Up” which sent us in circles from every angle possible …and by the end I knew that was my first and final ride of the day! However, two other students, with apparent stomachs of steel, opted to try out the bumper cars, the drop tower and more! The rest of us wandered around the grounds and contemplated the many food options!
After the two thrill seekers got their ride fix, we regrouped to grab some food. Having learned that “stuffed ham” is a specialty truly unique to St. Mary’s County, we started with a free sample. There was a mixed reaction to the spicy ham treat; some thought it was too spicy, while others enjoyed it. However, I was the only one who actually purchased a sandwich to take with me! Following our savory sampling, we moved on to the true fair goodness- fried foods! We tried funnel cake sprinkled with powdered sugar and fried Oreos, which are an American tradition and favorite at county fairs. We also learned that in Slovenia, where one of our students is from, there is very similar treat to funnel cake!
Submitted by Amy Marrion, Office of International Education Graduate Assistant