Posted by Dave on November 22, 2009
Minitown County Fair
Fairs have played an important roll in my life and continue to do so. As a child I went to the California State Fair. In my teen years living in North Eastern Las Angeles County I would go to the LA County Fair in Pomona. The LA County Fair is a very large fair as large as some state fairs. In my early 20ies I bought a 20ft travel trailer and the only place local I could park my trailer was at the LA County Fairplex mobile home park. The park was made available in the off season but just before the fair session I had to move. I stayed there for a couple of months. Living at the Fairplex was a bit odd you woke up each day to see people walking their horses from the stables to the work-out areas. There was a small restaurant there where you would often see a horse tied up in front. I eventually found a mobile home park in Covina. About a year later I move trailer and all to Oregon.
My wife and I had our first official date at the Clackamas County Fair in Oregon. We enjoy attending ether the CC fair or the Oregon State Fair at least every year. We go back and forth between the two fairs depending on our schedules. The State fair has a lot more to offer, but the county fair has more charm. One other local fair my wife and I have visited is the Washington County Fair, but it has been some time since we have attended.
So how did I get myself roped in to building an HO scale County Fair? Well a number of ideas competed for the Grand Prize Blue Ribbon.
Honorable Mention would have to go to the model railroad club I belong too. Or to a purchase they made of the Vollmer HO scale horse race kit as well as a vintage HO slot car grandstand and a vintage slot car curved bleachers they own. The grandstand and bleachers are being used for a baseball field scene on one of the club modules. I initially planed to acquire a grandstand for myself to use for a similar scene only it would be a football field. So I was actively searching the net for information on ether item.
Note: You can find these items on ebay but the condition varies and with so many people biding the price can easily go why higher then they are worth. Why it would be cheaper to bid on a Blue Ribbon Hog at the fair, then it would be to bid on one of the grandstand kits still in the box.
I eventually acquired two grandstands and one of the curved bleachers. I got lucky; I think everyone else had been asleep. Well maybe not all that lucky they were missing the figures that come with the kits. The first grandstand was falling apart and had globs of glue everywhere. I will have to disassemble it and then remove the excess glue reassemble and paint it. The second one is in fare condition.
If you are just looking for an HO grandstand then you maybe in luck Faller has re-released their HO grandstand for their new HO scale mini-cart race set. They also have a bleacher that comes with their soccer-football field.
Ok let’s get back to the fair. These models did not at first Steer me in the direction of making an HO scale fair. What they did do was plant the seed that later grew into a world record giant pumpkin.
The Yellow Ribbon goes to when my wife and I went to the State Fair. We saw these street performers ridding through the crowds on miniature ponies. They whore big cowboy hats and they where He-Hawing and telling cowboy stories. Their tiny little legs dangled at their sides. The real strange thing was their ponies- only had two legs. Ok to be fair I did say they where street performers and we where at the Fair.
Of coarse I did not get inspired right then and there. At the time the idea of a HO scale county fair had not even be thought of. I was only working on the theme park and the zoo. So as the idea of making HO versions of these Muppet like cowpoke tumbled around in my head all the way home from the fair I tried to figure out how I could use then in my two existing parks. I could use them in the Western Frontier but belittle the authenticity of the attraction. I could make them up as Knights and use them at the Castle that might work. In the Zoo they could be ridding Zebras. Anyway making HO scale copies of these street performers was defiantly something to do.
The Blue Ribbon would have to go to my cousin. He and I were going to go to the Rodeo, which was being held at the county fair complex. His plans changed so I spent the day sorting through all of the animals I had collected for the zoo. That’s when I noticed that along with zoo figures I also had a growing collection of livestock, mostly just horses and cows. Horses I could use for the Western Frontier or the Circus but what to do with all the cows. I am a model railroader cows go with railroads but I model the Alaska Railroad and Alaska is not what you would call a cattle state.
That’s when the millwheel started turning on the seeds of inspiration. When the plow toiled in the field of ideas and the seed of the Great Pumpkin pushed through the soil to spread its leaves in the light. Ok, Ok my 6 seconds is more then up its time to get down off of the bull.
My first plan was to build a Rodeo so I got out my Walthers catalog and began looking for parts and kits that would make a rodeo. I acquired a grandstand from ebay then with a couple of stockyard kits I could use for fencing. Woodland Scenic had some horseback riders figures while the riders are not in western ware they are ridding western. Something that the euro manufacturers mounted riders don’t do. I also plan to order some figures from Musket Miniatures Rustic Rails. They have line of HO white metal cowboy figures.
As I continued to obtained the necessary pieces I needed to build the HO Rodeo my thoughts went to the Vollmer racetrack. A rodeo by itself would not fill a module but a rodeo and a horse racetrack would. So I ordered the Vollmer kit, which just happened to be on sale at the time. As I continued to collect items I thought about the theme for my display. I like to create a back-story to my displays it helps in the design to know the background. Minitown is the fictitious town where all of my scenes reside. So my rodeo would be the Minitown Rodeo and Racetrack. Then I got to thinking where do they usually hold a rodeo. The local rodeo is held at the county fair grounds. Hmm, now I had a real award winning idea. What a bout making a fair. So now I need to do some more planning and research. Animals where not a problem, there are plenty of horses, cows, pigs, sheep and goats though not as many as the others. There is even various poultry and lamas thought alpacas are more commonly found at fairs.
So on to the buildings. I had everything I needed for the rodeo and racetrack what I needed now was livestock barns. The buildings needed to have open sides so the visitors could see all of the livestock inside. I could just use some Pikestuff buildings but that would be cheating my patrons. No I wanted open barns so out came the Walthers catalog. I scanned back and forth through the structures section. I really did not expect to find the buildings I wanted because I study the Walthers catalog like it was the bible. For model railroaders it is the bible. I know what you’re thinking by comparing a catalog to the bible. You’re thinking that I’m might be tempting fate. Speaking blaspheme. Maybe, but I think God would understand after all he too is a dioramic modeler and I am one of his HO scale people. Of course He did not just order the universe out of a catalog. For God is the original kit basher. Well it was looking like I too would have to do some kit bashing. But I will need more then a lump of clay. Then one day while I was perusing through the latest Walthers flyer I noticed that they had on sale their Corner Stone Lumberyard kit.(now out of production) It was as if I had been inspired by a force greater then my own directing my attention to the kit. Yes! I thought, it would be easy convert this kit to make my livestock buildings. I bought the kit and begain the process of kit bashing the individual buildings to make my livestock buildings. Then on another trip to a local swamp meet I was enlightened again. I found a Walthers Cornerstone Midstate Marble Products Factory. This building has a high ceiling and large windows. Just right for a poultry and small animals building. Poultry barns need lots of air movement so high ceilings and lots of windows make the perfect building. The fair was beginning to take shape.
The only thing I needed now was, places to eat and two main exhibit buildings. The eateries would be simple a few carnie type food stands placed evenly around the park would work. I will also have some permanent eateries. I will have a small barn for the sale of dairy products and ice crème. These stands are common at fairs and are usually ran by the wife’s and daughters of the dairy industry. Another permanent eatery will be The Big Pig. This is a barbeque shack shaped like a big pig I acquired from a seller on ebay. There will be a beer garden and a wine garden to complete out the eateries.
Now on to the exhibiter buildings. I need one building for agriculture exhibits and one for commercial exhibits. I just planed to use Pikestuff buildings for them both but then while attending another local swap meet I found a unique warehouse building with high windows. It was made from card stock and looked perfect for my agriculture exhibits building and at only $5 it was a steal. I will still use a Pikestuff building for the commercial exhibits.
Now that all of the structures are assigned all I have to do now is design the bench work.
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