Monday, August 06, 2007

The County Fair

Oh to attend a county fair! The thrill of the rides, the scent of fried food, the joy of a show… Well, we had all that and more.

Around 2 PM, we arrived at the fairgrounds with 80 tickets for rides. Of course you know that 80 tickets doesn’t equal 80 rides, right? Not even 40 rides… Heck, we were going to be really lucky to squeeze 20 out of that many tickets. Those fairs take you to the cleaners, I tell you. To the cleaners! But seeing smiles on their faces after the thrill of the moment somehow makes it worth while…

But first we needed to visit the petting zoo. We saw a sow with her piglets, two baby ostriches, a horse, two miniature horses, sheep, a duck and her ducklings, kittens, ferrets, mice, guinea pigs, and a tarantula. (Well to be honest, I didn’t even look at it, but there was tank there that said tarantula and that’s all the proof I needed.) The kids enjoyed holding the baby chicks. They squirmed and fluttered in their hands, but they were soft and enjoyable.

Next we hit a couple of rides. The kids begged to ride the bumper cars with us, so we handed over almost a fourth of our tickets to spend the next 90 seconds hitting each other legally. I’m a great bumper car driver. If I see you, I will get you. Oh yeah, baby! Watch Momma behind the wheel! A great time was had by all, but what a disappointment that it was such a short ride. I wanted to conserve the rest of the tickets for the kids, but they really wanted to ride the Sizzler with Daddy. So the three of them hopped on the ride and I took pictures. They had a fun, fun time spinning around and around, all the while fearful that they were going to hit another seat. They dizzily exited the ride, exclaiming that it was the best ride ever.

Next was the free watermelon feed. I think the girl inhaled four pieces the first time we hit it, and the boy ate two. I’m too embarrassed to tell you how many Mr. Right ate. It was, however, a refreshing break in the day. We enjoyed it once more about an hour later. Hey – free food at a fair is ALWAYS a good thing.

Some of the things to enjoy at a county fair were all the 4-H presentations. We spent quite awhile going through the exhibits. Our favorite parts where when we noticed works from people we knew from when we lived there. (And yes Brenda – we did see a few things that DD did and C had something there too. And several others that I won't name now, but it was good to see everyone’s names.) Our favorite place to frequent was the air-conditioned hut. Oh my lands, they had to have the fair on a scorcher of a day and we had to go at 2 PM, didn’t we? We saw lots of great displays in that hut… at least 3 different times! Thank you God for shelter from the blazing sun! (And to note, I’m now sporting an amazingly red back due to that sun. As a bit of warning, might I suggest your bringing more sunscreen so that you can reapply as necessary? That is all I have to say on this matter.)

We watched a remote control car race, and that was fun. The girl kept timing things with her new watch. She’s got that lap button down, that’s for sure. We cheered on all the kids as they raced around the track, in and out of the lines, spinning out of control, sometimes chasing down/mowing down some of the innocent bystanders. It also reassured me that not getting a remote controlled car for the boy may have been a surprisingly great move on our part…

We went back for more rides, took a break for snow cones (I found that the frugal side of me balked at paying half my mortgage for a funnel cake. I just couldn’t do it! But dang they smelled good.), and used up all our tickets. The kids enjoyed the Tilt-a-whirl, the really tall slide, the dragon and the Ferris wheel.

We made our first giant effort towards become white trash. We attended our first “Figure Eight Races,” an exciting race of demolition cars competing against each other in figure eight races… on mud. Oh. My. Lands. Who knew that such fun could be had at a fair? Those cars knocked into each other as they vied for first place in their first heats. Then the 3rd and 4th places of each heat vied for the qualifying rounds. Then the first and second of those heats raced for first and second so that they could race in the final race.
They were exciting to watch, fun to root for whatever car we liked, great to yell, cheer and talk with our neighbors. We held our breaths quite a few times, especially as two cars actually flipped over, with the drivers both crawling out unharmed. In came the bobcats to flip them back over and push them off the track. Then it was back to the racing. I couldn’t believe how much we enjoyed watching that mess. And the best part? It was alcohol free which made it great for kids to attend. No drunken brawls, no foul language that I heard. It was a good time with the family. Everyone had a great time, well except the boy who declared everything to be “too loud”, that plus he would much rather have ridden the rides than sit in bleachers. Too bad for him is all I have to say.

However, there was a tragedy that occurred while we were in the third from the final race. While one of the cars was racing through the center, its entire wheel came off and flew into the audience. It was one of those brief moments where you could see it happening, yet could do nothing to prevent its taking place. The tire did injure a couple of race watchers, I’m sorry to say, but the EMTs that monitored the race flew to attend them. They were jumping the fence, attending needs and doing their jobs with diligence and superb timing. You could actually watch them at work here. They even pan the audience at one point and if you don’t blink and you know what we look like, you can see us watching the ordeal in the upper left hand of the screen just before the clip is halfway through finishing. (The girl is wearing pink, the boy is hanging on me and I’m behind a girl in pink who steps down during the panning. It’s not all that exciting, now that I think about it. Never mind.)
While the EMTs were helping the injured, the girl said, “Well, there’s something about sitting way up here.” She was so right. Since it was about 8 PM and we had promised to eat dinner with Mr. Right’s folks, we decide that it was time to leave the race. Nothing like going to the fair and needing to take your kids to counseling over it…

And as a final ending to this long Saturday recap, here’s a little story to end on a more pleasant note…

There were no other riders for the dragon, so the operator decided to have some fun with the kids. They walked up to the gate and asked to ride the ride. As he took the tickets, he said, “What’s the magic word to get in?’

The kids both yelled, “Pleeeease!”

The man shook his head and said, “Nope I changed it.” The kids looked at us, slightly bewildered, and then just started naming off all sorts of words and phrases. “Nope,” the operator replied. “I’ll give you a hint, though. It’s something pretty.”

Just then the boy looked over at me and said, “I know! Mommy… She’s really pretty.” And he flashed me a winning smile.

I’m telling y’all, I melted right then and there. And the heat had nothing to do with it.

So now we’re back home and the kids are enjoying their last few days of freedom from rules and regulations. Man oh man, they’re going to think it reeks to come back home. No tv, no computers and they have to eat “good for you” cereal… I bet their prayers are going to be something along the lines of hurrying the school year so that they can get back to the good stuff at Grandma’s. But don’t worry, I’ve got a secret weapon: Homemade Macaroni and Cheese. Gets them every time.

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