It’s always fun for me to visit the annual Chennai Trade Fair that happens in Island Grounds near the mouth of River Cooum. The visit is a bit nostalgic as well for me, as it brings back memory of my school days when my dad used to bring me to this fair every year. The fair is nothing fancy, it’s more like a large scale village market. You will find lot of eatable stalls, I love eating the big size Appalam (அப்பளம்), Cotton Candy (பஞ்சு மிட்டாய்) and Chilli Bajji (மிளகாய் பஜ்ஜி) that are sold here, but nowadays due to health and hygienic reasons I avoid eating them here.
Beside eateries you will find cooperatives from around the country selling handlooms, honey, eucalyptus oil, home made chocolate, organic tea and pickles. There are stalls that bargain items, today I saw shops selling miscellaneous plastic items each costing only Rs.10 (US$ 0.15) .
There are lot of entertainment options, including fair booths that are meant to scare you like Ghost town, Pirates of the Caribbean ship and so on. At the tail end of the fairgrounds is an assortment of joy rides like Merry-Go-Around and ferris wheel. This time there was Jumbo Circus doing their performances inside a big tent.
There was the famous toy train too, that I used to love riding during every visit during my school days.
Apart from the above, Tamil Nadu state government which is the organiser of the fair puts up booths showcasing each of its department functions and achievements of the past year; nowadays the booths have become propaganda mouth piece of the Chief Minister and the political party in power, still I found few of them to have useful information. I bought few packets of Low Sodium Amma Salt sold by Tamil Nadu Government.
The booth from Hindu Religious & Charitable Endowments that runs most of the Hindu Temples in the state, had an impressive replica of the entrance tower of Sri Parthasarathy Perumal Koil in Chennai.
I was surprised to find a real size replica of village God Aiyanar temple near-by.
Overall, it was fun visit except I went without carrying a cap or a sunglass to shield from the hot sun. If you are going in the evening remember to cover yourself fully, wear shoes and apply mosquito repellant on your arms and face; since the fair grounds are on the banks of River Cooum you will need all the protection you can get. Don’t forget to carry few bottles of water.