In one form or another, fairs have attracted crowds down through the centuries, and no wonder: They offer the prospect of good food and drink, colorful sights, profitable commerce and maybe a welcome bit of revelry. Among today's more unusual fairs, some of which date from ages past:
*Imilchil Betrothal Fair, Morocco: In the high Atlas Mountains of southern Morocco, a scattered tribe of Berbers gathers each fall for a large and spirited three-day bazaar to trade livestock, rugs, silver jewelry, tools and other goods, and to give unmarried tribe members a chance to find a spouse.
*Navajo Nation Fair and Rodeo, Window Rock, Ariz.: The crowds number in the tens of thousands, many of them members of more than 60 Indian tribes from across the United States, at this fall extravaganza to watch rodeo bronc- and bull-riding, horse races, a 10,000-meter footrace and traditional tribal songs and dances. There's also a western barbecue featuring authentic Navajo frybread.
*Haxey Hood Game, Haxey, Humberside, England: The legend is that a titled lady of Old England one day lost her hood in a strong wind. She awarded the laborers who retrieved it with land, but extracted a promise they compete in games each year thereafter. The resulting event, held in early January, includes a bonfire; a procession of medieval characters; a rugby-like free-for-all for a replica of the lady's leather hood; and long and boisterous celebrating in the village pubs.
*Fiestas de Octubre, Guadalajara, Mexico: A cosmopolitan city of roses, Guadalajara bursts forth in a fun-filled Latin Oktoberfest with bullfights, races, balloon and glider flights, food shows, a handicrafts exhibit drawing artists from throughout the country and a noisy, joyous mariachi festival.
*The Rose of Tralee International Festival, Tralee County, Kerry, Ireland: It has been called an "Irish Mardi gras," a week-long end-of-summer celebration that fills the streets of Kerry for bonfires, donkey races, tugs-of-war, band concerts, merry hijinks and the crowning of the fair "Rose of Tralee."
*Calaveras County Fair & Jumping Frog Jubilee, Angels Camp, Calif.:sw,-1 sk,1 Mark Twain's famous story about a jumping frog contest is re-enacted every May in this one-time '49er gold-mining town in the beautiful foothills of the Sierra Nevada. The crowds frequently are livelier than the competing frogs, who are not always sure what's expected of them.