A Break From Politics At The County Fair

NPR reporters spend a lot of time chasing politicians around looking for interviews. Sometimes the encounter is in a district office. Sometimes it's in a diner. Sometimes the location, unexpectedly, becomes the best part of the story, as happened this week at the Stark County Fair in Northeast Ohio.

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SCOTT SIMON, host:

NPR reporters spend a lot of time chasing around politicians for interviews. Sometimes the encounter is in a district office, sometimes a diner. Sometimes the location unexpectedly becomes the best part of the story.

So it happened to NPR political correspondent Don Gonyea this week at the Stark County Fair in Northeast Ohio.

DON GONYEA: I had spent the day looking at a hot congressional race. I caught up with the candidates at the county fair in Canton, Ohio. I had what I needed so I headed to the Midway.

Unidentified Woman: The Stark County Junior Fair Youth Awards presentations will be starting at 7:00 p.m. in the pavilion...

GONYEA: What I found was a piece of my boyhood. Rides I hadn't seen in decades: the Loop-O-Plane, the Sky Diver, the Scrambler.

(Soundbite of rides)

GONYEA: Then there were the funnel cakes, fried cheese, fried Twinkies. One brightly lit trailer was selling fried veggies, pandering to modern sensibilities. I had a corn dog.

Way over on the far edge of the fairgrounds, I saw the huge sign mounted on top of a trailer. The Headless Woman - it read - Still Alive. A metal loudspeaker lured people in.

Unidentified Man: A real live girl but where is her head? Can a human being stay alive with no head? How far can modern science go? Is this possible?

GONYEA: Let's just say it probably wasn't the best $2 I've ever spent. I skipped the attraction one lot over - a live rat weighing 100 pounds, the exhibit promised. That's when another sound lured me away from the midway to the grandstands.

(Soundbite of marching band)

GONYEA: It was a battle of the bands - high School marching bands, with flag corps, baton twirlers. These were the Aviators of Alliance High School.

(Soundbite of marching band)

GONYEA: It was fun, even if I've heard Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" a few hundred times too many.

(Soundbite of marching band)

(Soundbite of applause)

GONYEA: I came to the Stark County Fair looking for a few quotes from politicians. Sometimes you find something else.

Don Gonyea, NPR News.

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