The Salem County Fair stands apart in its straightforward simplicity. It is quiet and it is full of local learning moments and slow strolls to admire it all. It is summer scents emanating of favorite grilled barbecue dishes and bright snow cones that children choose for the beauty of each color regardless of different flavors and generous ice cream cones and fresh food made with individual care that are worth the extra moments in line and the savored hurried bites, so as to not miss the next event.
The fair has early evenings of largely gentle events, purposefully void of the ubiquitous of loud shows and amusements rides elsewhere. There are skillet tosses, ice-cream contests, and animals race run on fresh wood that curls in soft piles and smells of the tree it came from. The lovingly tended vegetables that have been raised since seeds started when the weather only hinted at warmth are displayed on wooden platforms as if on perfect wooden stages for crowds to admire, and one does not lose sight of where the food that surrounds us that we enjoy originates. Pictures are placed with winning ribbons beside them, and the local farmers who have brought their best are each respected with individual time.
Each barn is known by the crowds as formed by tradition. There is gleaming farm equipment displayed as high as the rooftops near the front and the cows bow their head lightly when people walk by slowly to view the beauty of each. There are tractor pulls at night to watch from small steel bleachers as they roar in their own skilled strong effort, and corn ground into hardened kernels to form areas for children to play as if in a sandbox.
It is a fair of dirt roads, and parking on the strength of summer grass. It is a place where ice cream is served generously and donations for fundraisers generously given for local charities. Politicians and local organizations are there to meet and listen to concerns an ideas, and princesses are crowned to reign. It is an event where a horse-drawn carriage is gently stopped in knowing respect as the lyrics of the national anthem rise out into the air. It is a view into the past and how in many parts every day still runs in this section of the state. This part of New Jersey is worth a visit and all welcomed to see the uniqueness and traditions of Salem County’s annual fair.