Day 26: Hudsonville Fair

When I started this project, I thought the best way to handle it was to stay within city limits. There are lots of suburbs of Grand Rapids, and to extend the scope of the project to Kentwood, Wyoming, Grandville, Plainfield, etc., seemed too overwhelming both for me and any potential readers.

But part of what I love and what’s great about Grand Rapids is its proximity to other resources. For example, the city is 40 minutes away from Lake Michigan. There are handfuls of beautiful beaches in suburbs like Muskegon, Grand Haven, and Holland. I just hop in a car and within an hour, I’m stretching out on the hot sand and admiring the blue waves.

As I said in my [Farmers Market]( entry, Grand Rapids is surrounded by rural and farming areas. And as a born-and-bred country girl, I find that comforting. Whenever I pine for hay rides and pumpkin patches and apple picking, I don’t have to go very far out of my way.

But one of the things I miss the most about country living is the summertime fair. I miss the bright lights of the midway, the clouds of smoke and the roar of engines of the demolition derby and the tractor pull, I miss the sweet taste of sugar-cinnamon fried dough, and I even miss the stink of the animal barns.

Lucky for me, I don’t have to drive the two and a half hours home to the field from whence I came. While there are plenty of fairs within an hour’s drive from the city, I always choose the Hudsonville Fair. It’s nearby–it’s less than a half-hour away–and it feels like the fair of my childhood.

So when my husband texted me Wednesday afternoon and asked if I wanted to go to the fair, even though it was gloomy and a chilly 60 degrees, I agreed.

It was the night of the tractor pull championships, so we got ourselves some tickets and some junk food, found an open space of bleachers, and donned our ear protection.


I will always prefer the demolition derby over the tractor pull. I like to see crappy cars slamming into each other and getting destroyed. My husband, however, prefers to see marvelous machines demonstrating their strength and endurance. Whatever it is that makes either of us want to spend our evening deafening our ears with the roar of engines and polluting our lungs with the smoke of oil and gas has to come from our hillbilly upbringings.


But I’ve got no shame about it. It’s fun. It’s nostalgic. It’s part of the American culture. And I like it.

When the competition was done, we walked through the animal barns, patting goats on the head and petting bunny paws. Then we wandered through the 4-H exhibits, admiring the creativity of children. We split an elephant ear that was pure sugar and grease, wiping our messy fingers on our jeans. And then we said good-bye to the fair, good-bye for now, good-bye until next year.