Sunday, August 2, 2009

Are you going to Scarborough Fair?

McCormick Place in Chicago, with its 2.2 million sq. ft. of exhibition space, is the largest trade fair site of North America.

Annually, McCormick attracts 3 million visitors.

By far, the largest number of attendees was for the Chicago Auto Show, which is the largest auto show in the country, although there also was a significant number of attendees for several pure “trade shows”, like the Hardware Show of Chicago

The 91st Chicago Auto Show (in 2009) closed with an all-time record attendance of 1,215,734, surpassing the previous mark by more than 135,000.

The Las Vegas Convention Center, which actually has more TOTAL space than McCormick Place, is the home of the Consumer Electronics Show,which is considered to be the largest TRADE show in America, with over 100,00 visitors in 2009.

The Consumer Electronics Show runs for a total of FOUR days. In 2009, the dates were January 8-11.

If you reach back through time to a period known as “long ago”, you’ll discover that there WAS a time when trade fairs were MUCH longer than modern trade fairs.

During a time when religious extremists (western Christians) were waging a protracted “holy war” against the most advanced civilization in the world (the Muslims), King Henry III of England granted a charter to the ancient seaside town of Scarborough to hold an annual trade fair.

The first fair was held in 1253. In keeping with the traditions of the time, it started and ended on religious holidays. Opening day was August 15 (Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary) and ended on September 29, (the Feast of St. Michael).

Although initially tremendously successful, competition from the fairs started by other towns gradually eroded the prosperity of the Scarborough Fair, and it ended for good in 1788. Low key commemorative events are still held each year in September, so the fair DOES live on in spirit, if not in fact.

The song made popular by Simon and Garfunkel is actually based on ancient Scottish ballads that go back to at least the year 1650, and possibly earlier.

Paul Simon learned the song from Martin Carthy when he was in London in 1965. Art Garfunkel added the echoing refrain canticle, and modified it to include anti-war lyrics, at a time when the Vietnam War was being escalated by President Johnson.

The duo also used the same technique on "Silent Night-7 O’clock News", which they released a year later:

Silent Night.

Although our cupboards contain parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme, I’ll have to admit that I never knew (until today) that they have been symbolic herbs since the time of the Middle Ages.

Parsley, which is still used today as a digestive aid, was thought to take away bitterness in taste, and also to be spiritually beneficial.

Sage has been known to symbolize strength for thousands of years

Rosemary represents faithfulness, love, and remembrance. Many brides in England still wear twigs of rosemary in their hair on their wedding day.

Thyme symbolizes courage. When the song was first written, knights wore images of thyme on their shields when they went off to combat.

Simon and Garfunkel were some of the most prolific song writers of the 1960’s, as evidenced by the alphabetical listing of their songs, which you can see by clicking on the link below:

Simon and Garfunkel songs

The late Jimmy Durante always used to close his shows with the phrase, “Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are”.

In that same vein, I’d like to close out this story by saying,

“So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright”.

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