Sometimes working at the Mercury means you have to do things you don't want to. Like distribute contraceptive information at the state fair.

I headed down to Salem on Sunday evening to do just that (for a story about John McCain, Planned Parenthood and Fritos-lovin' fair goers that'll be in this week's news section). Because the fair's slogan is "Too big to miss!" I didn't bother to print off directions. The slogan proved to be sadly misleading and on the outskirts of the wrong side of Salem, I finally stopped at a 24-hour donut place to ask where to go. The kid working the counter made some vague gestures toward the appropriate street and then told me, placing two rainbow-sprinkle donut holes in a bag, "Everyone's saying there was a fight at the fair yesterday."

My expectations increased dramatically.

The fair turned out to be full of surprises. Only at the state fair can you watch a video of a horse giving birth in such convenient proximity to Oregon's largest potato! Mostly, I was overwhelmed by the cake decorating contest - a whole table lined with elaborated frosted cakes, some in the shape of things I would never want to eat (what a delectable giant bee!). I spent probably half an hour circling the table, trying to decide which one I should cast my "People's Choice" vote for.

Oregon: Famous for its Edible Beavers

"Molded sugar fence posts?! That bitch!"

(I chose this one)