PHIL AT THE PHAIR: Getting a dose of unculture shock at the fair

2012-07-20T22:00:00Z 2012-07-20T22:18:16Z PHIL AT THE PHAIR: Getting a dose of unculture shock at the fairBy Phil Wieland, (219) 548-4352

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP | Am I an uncultured oaf because I like to go to the Porter County Fair every year? Several times?

The question came to me after reading an essay or column, I'm not sure of the difference, by Calvin Trillin, whose writing I recently and joyfully discovered.

Trillin wondered if his tastes qualified him as an uncultured oaf to others he occasionally met in his role as a writer for national publications. It made me wonder how cultured sorts feel about county fairs because it's not exactly grand opera, this year's appearance by Larry the Cable Guy notwithstanding.

How would someone who knows the best wine vintages, collects modern art and sprinkles their comments with phrases in any of several foreign languages learned during their travels abroad feel about a corn dog or, my favorite, Swiss cheese in rye on a stick. Even the French translation of either delicacy would make them sound more elegant.

I recalled my trip last fall to Long Beach, which is about as close to traveling "abroad" as I've come, not counting a trip to the Portage Japanese restaurant, and wondered if Long Beach-ites could get excited about a 4-H collection of smiley face pins compared to the high level of culture and art they enjoy.

The couple I visited were very nice and seemed like down-to-earth folks. He collects several kinds of art, including something he called "outsider art." I suspect the artists were "outsiders" because the pictures looked to me like they could have been drawn by my granddaughter, who is 4.

He seemed quite proud of having them, which I could understand if his grandchildren had done them, but I got the impression he actually paid money for them. To my uncultured eye, the 4-H artwork at the fair is far superior, so the 4-H artists must be "insiders" whose talents would not appeal to people of culture.

You can find plenty of pate de foie gras on the hoof in the poultry barn or future filet mignons in the cattle barn, but mostly what you see in the latter is the south end of northbound bovines. And, if you are ogling up the rump roasts too closely, you run the risk of giving your designer brogans a dose of processed whole grain goodness.

In the end, it should come as no surprise that, yes, I am an uncultured oaf, and that's OK. The cost of eating on the midway might seem like you are at an expensive restaurant frequented by the culture crowd, but it's turkey legs and pizza on a stick and not escargot.

We uncultured oafs would never eat escargot. It takes a pretty small stick to deep-fry those things.

The opinions are those of the writer. He can be reached checking the 4-H terrariums for escargot on the hoof at or (219) 548-4352.

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