Friday, June 13, 2014

Meet Me at the Fair

When I was a kid, I lived in a neighborhood in San Mateo (a suburb south of San Francisco) just behind the county fairgrounds.  Each summer when the fair came to town, over the tops of the houses and trees I'd see the tops of the ferris wheel and other sparkly rides.  It felt magical to me, those glimpses of the carnival excitement that was just a few blocks away.  Going to the fair was a big family event, filled with loud sounds and bright lights and rows of vendors hawking unusual, enticing wares.  It was a Big Deal.

For the last two years, I've been invited to judge quilts at that very fair.  In fact, the San Mateo County fair was my first official judging job after I got my judge certification, which seemed especially meaningful somehow.  (I sketched this when I judged there that first year.)

Judging quilts is amazingly fun and fascinating, and this fair attracts quite a few (350+) quilts from very talented quilters.  The San Mateo judging crew is incredibly organized, which makes it easy and smooth and very pleasant.  I judged my allotted categories, but because there were so many quilts, I didn't see quite a few of them.  But the quilts aren't hung when we judge them, and things aren't open or set up at all. 

So yesterday, I drove back down to San Mateo (a 2 hour drive from my home) to go to the fair now that it's open. I took my sketching gear and planned to spend the afternoon looking at quilts and cruising the fair and indulging in a fair amount of nostalgia.

I can highly recommend a county fair as a fun place for sketching.  There is so much to see, so much color, so many amazing sights.  I ran out of time and never got to draw any of the animals, but (thinking I guess of my childhood attraction to the ferris wheel) I started in the carnival game and ride area and had a good old time sketching there.

Later on, after I tired of sitting out in the sun, I found a shady picnic table near one of the performance stages, got myself a cold drink and the Perfect Fair Snack -- "funnel cake" -- and then looked around to see what I could sketch from there.  Well, the funnel cake booth was pretty engaging.  So I had a wonderful time, watching local teen dancers and a troup of Chinese acrobats, sketching, and nibbling away at my cake. 

The day ended quite nicely when I met up with my friend Pat for fish tacos at a favorite spot in Mill Valley. We caught up after not seeing each other for a few months and talked quilting and art and compared our favorite colors of watercolor paint. Oh yeah, and ate chips and salsa and tacos.

It was the perfect play day. 

(I just realized that in my previous post, I wrote about the Sketching Disneyland project I'm working on with my sister.  Apparently I'm in an amusement park sort of mood these days!)

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