September 12th to 14th, Mendeccino Fair and Apple Show, ….. it’s an annual event. For three sunny days each September, the population of Boonville swells to beyond capacity as people flock into town for the show, …. and it‘s the main reason for my return. Physically the fair is not unlike any other, it’s the atmosphere that’s so different. It’s carnival time, the people are here for a good time, they set out to enjoy themselves and enjoyment is exactly what they get. Everybody seems to know each other and everybody seems to know me. I’m introduced to strangers in a whirlwind of greetings, I forget peoples names, ….. thankfully, the people don’t seem to mind that, .. this weekend is all about fun.
On Friday afternoon, the traditional yellow buses collect the kids from school and drop them at the fairground, the parents arrive and the fun begins. They buy tickets for the rides, but if the kids have no tickets, ….. it seems to matter little, .. they ride for free, …. this is Boonville. It’s a mixture of fairground rides, agriculture. local arts and crafts. The food is local too, and plentiful, … the beer and wine the same. On Sunday lunchtime the parade along the towns main street brings the people from the fairground and onto the pavement, …. every passing float, good or bad, is cheered with the same level of enthusiasm. It lasts for thirty minutes, I watch the Veteran’s march passed leading the parade, …… followed by the Mexican riders looking splendid in their wide sombrero’s. Wes, the local architect strides past dressed as ’Uncle Sam’ on his tall stilts, …. he’s improved since his earlier practice runs in my brothers front yard. Vintage cars and vans drive slowly, passengers waving …. a local marching band, … the Fire Department with all alarms and sirens sounding, …. the Sheriff stops and throws sweets to the watching crowds, (Hearts & Minds?), …. the Anderson Valley School Band and Football Team, … ’The Panthers’.
As the last official float passes, the crowds make their way back into the fairground, ….. this afternoon is the finale of the main event, …… The Rodeo. I’ve seen it in movies, I’ve watched it on television, … I’ve even sat on a mechanical version, …. but having now seen it live and at close quarters, I have to report that ’Bull Riding’ is by far the most dangerous sport that I have ever witnessed. The bulls are big, … they look hungry and mean, … they have names such as ’The Undertaker’ and ’Rage’. The cowboys that ride them are young, ….. life expectancy dictates that this is not a sport for the elderly. For eight long seconds, if lucky, the cowboy hangs onto the bull as it bucks and weaves doing everything within it’s substantial power to throw him, … to then gorge him or trample him, …. probably both. If you’ve ever watched this ’Sport’ on television and thought to yourself, ….. ’I’d like to try that’, … then trust me, …… you really wouldn’t.