Monday, 15 September 2008

Foire de Beaucroissant

On Sunday we went for an outing to the Foire de Beaucroissant, not far from Grenoble. We missed out on our local Wagin Woolorama in March this year, so this was our agricultural show visit for the year instead. But whereas the Wagin Woolorama has been going for about 25 years, it was the 789th Show at Beaucroissant! If you can read French you can read about its origins here. Otherwise I will just tell you that the fair had its origins when a religious gathering in 1220 drew stallholders who wanted to take advantage of the crowds to sell their wares.
Unfortunately I don't have lots of (actually I don't have any) photos from the day, because I am still without a little camera (but be warned: I have ordered a new camera which will be coming with my parents in a couple of weeks time.) If I ever find out how to download videos from the video camera and put them on the web I would be able to show some hilarious footage of the girls on the sideshow ride called the "Palace of Laughs". I could hardly hold the camera steady as they got caught out by air bullets, moving walkways that changed speed, ladders that moved, rotating tunnels and all manner of tricks.
The fair at Beaucroissant is HUGE, with fifteen kilometres of alleys over forty hectares. There were about 1800 exhibitors of which 250 are agricultural machinery. A quarter of the stands are market stalls (you know the type? Amazing kitchen gadgets, microfibre cleaning cloths, knife sharpeners, orthopaedic pillows, strange looking massage implements, imported clothing, cheap jewellery, handbags, hats...), food stalls 12%, home and leisure 5% and livestock breeders 4%. There are 100 bars and restaurants, and between 800,000 and 1,000,000 visitors were expected over the three days.
Unfortunately the day that we were there was not the day when the cows and horses were there. After reading the above statistics I know why I got lost in the miles of alleys crowded with people. It was hard to find anything "agricultural" without a map.
The agricultural displays were somewhat different from what we see at the Wagin Woolorama, although there were the same sorts of tractors (well, not so big), combines, telehandlers, electric fencing supplies, prefabricated structures and animal feed troughs. Some of the different things are animal water trailers - no permanent water points in many places, so they use a water tanker with water trough attached in the field. A lot of wood handling equipment as firewood is a big industry. Lots of small tractors, trailers and machines for small landholders. Not many merino sheep.
The weather had been atrocious on the first day of the fair, but on Sunday, although cold, it did not rain. However the mud created from the rain the day before was shocking. We looked like we had spent a day on the farm afterwards, with mud up our trousers. Roger also had mud on his shirt because he ended up putting Hugh on his shoulders to get back to the car. This morning I was glad I got up one hour earlier than normal because it took me nearly that long to clean and polish five pairs of shoes/boots (Roger's are still dirty.)

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