Each year on the last Thursday of the Indiana State Fair, the finals of the rooster crowing contest are held in the Rabbit/Poultry Barn. It creates competing instincts in a person: On one hand the intensity of the competition between the roosters is exhilarating (whoever crows the most in 15 minutes is the winner); on the other hand, the drone of the fans and general exhaustion that comes from being at the fair inspires one to want to curl up on the cool concrete floor and take a nap.
A sizable crowd of around 200 eager but soporific onlookers was gathered. The roosters were lined up in cages, elevated one level by a row of cages that contained ducks. We can only imagine how underappreciated the ducks must have felt for their brethren to be resting upon them while subject to such scrutiny (and yawns) and accolade, though it is difficult to envision a quacking competition as compelling, albeit monotonous, as a rooster crowing contest.
Doesn’t “cockle-doodle-do!” just say “Wake up!”?
We tried; we leaned forward and we counted … we all counted as the roosters, motivated by clapping and the shaking of keys, arbitrarily or, who knows, not so arbitrarily sang their sumptuous song, piercing the din of ambient noise.
We humans, full of fair food and stunned by the sun, watched in rapt but glazed attention as the winning rooster won by the barbicel of a feather, 60-59 over its closest challenger.
After the contest we wandered the aisles, ogling the roosters in a kickback, non-competitive mode. In contrast to the sparse crowing during the competition, now they were crowing up a storm. Perhaps the competitors had been experiencing performance anxiety.
Either that or they were trying to put us to sleep so that they might escape their caged existence as we slumbered in our seats.