A few weekends ago — luckily a weekend when the sun appeared above the muddy ridges and valleys of western Wisconsin — Martha and I were at the Kickapoo Country Fair, offering to fair-goers a treat that might something of a contradiction in terms: organic maple-syrup cotton candy.
It is something of a tradition for Maple Valley to offer the treat, at this fair. The event focuses upon sustainability, energy innovation, organic foods, and land stewardship. It has music, plentiful food, and events for children. This offers encouragement for entire families to attend.
For some of those families, the Kickapoo fair offers the one time in the year when the children are allowed cotton candy.
The parents say Yes to the idea — because it the candy is organic ... because it is not radioactive pink or blue ... and because, really truly, it is tasty.
You have to eat it quickly. Especially on a humid summer day, it has little staying power — because of the maple sugar. It becomes sticky. Then the strands begin melting together. The billowy stuff can actually start dripping.
The kids at Kickapoo are wise to this, of course. They attack it with abandon. Time for it to melt in their hands? Are you kidding?
The parents, too, are not too shabby in their cotton-candy-eating technique.
Not long after the event we received an unexpected thank-you card, signed by a couple who live in Hillsboro, Wisconsin.
“Dear Unknown Friends at Maple Valley Cooperative,” the note said. “We were so blessed by your representatives at the Kickapoo Country Fair cotton candy stand in LaFarge, this year. We had a large family asking for your delicious treat, and you shared out of your hearts!”
Well, we remember these good people. They did, indeed, have a large family ... and we could see the father steeling himself for the walloping cost of putting cotton candy in everyone’s hands. They had walked by earlier in the day: so the kids were primed for the promised treat. No doubt it was their reward for a day’s excellent behavior.
Martha and I just did what seemed best.
These things are not all about making money, after all.
... thoughts and news and observations ...
Mark has been a supporter of organic agriculture and an avid eater of organically-raised foods for most of his adult life. He joined forces with the folks at Organic Maple Co-op in the early summer of 2010. In Organic Maple Leaf Rag he explores the meaning and importance of the word “organic,” in food and agriculture. He also looks into the small world of organic maple syrup, and the daily activities of the Co-op. Both author and Co-op are based in Cashton, Wisconsin – a village whose weight in the organic-agriculture movement is disproportionate to its size.