To the Fair!

13 Jul

The air smelled like sugar and barbecue all at the same time. Around us, interesting looking people wandered from booth to booth, their arms overflowing with elephant ears, goldfish in baggies, and giant stuffed panda bears. To our left, a kid walked by pulling three large cows with colorful spray paint on their bums. Neon lights blinked and danced from the creaking rides nearby, illuminating bored carnies with mullets and goaties pulling levers. The sign above our heads loudly proclaimed “deep fried Pepsi!” We were at the St Joe County Fair.

This may or may not surprise you, but Patrick and I enjoy few Midwestern traditions more than this very favorite one- the county fair. Not being sarcastic, we really love fairs. We love the Americana of it all, the excellent people watching prospects (Patrick said the other night that you see people at the fair that you would never ever see in real life), the llamas, the bizzare shows, and fair food. Mmm…deep-fried…

So we’d be planning to go over the weekend, but on Thursday afternoon I remembered that the animals, which I figured Finn would enjoy the most,  are usually auctioned off on Friday morning. So we called some friends who are our regular fair buddies and headed right over, getting there just in time for the Great American Duck Race. The barker was very proud of his ducks, which had been featured in Women’s World Magazine (at this I cracked up laughing, earning dirty looks from those around me) and on Johnny Carson (at which point Patrick questioned “these particular ducks?”). Ducks were assigned into lanes and then released (or rather thrown) by participants from the audience. Each duck ended up in a common pond, where they blended in with every other duck that looked exactly the same, which made the barker’s attempt to do semi-finals laughable, as there was no way he could convince us that he knew just which duck was Afflack after the prelims.

We drifted away and headed down the midway for food. I had the classic footlong corn dog and Patrick and I split cheese fries and fried mushrooms. We ran into more friends there and all sat down to eat. At this point I realized that fair food should not be sold in little paper baskets that catch all the grease that drips out of your food and pools it for you to be horrified by. Feeling slightly queasy, we took a quick trip to the animals. Finn started to poke his fingers into the goose cages until one goose gave him a look that said “seriously kid? I’ve been poked and prodded, turned upside down and stuck in a cage for a week. Go ahead, stick your finger in here.” Finn got the message and pointed away from the geese.

In the sheep building, I set Finn on the ground and told him to say Baaa at the sheep. Finn tilted his head like he understood, then turned towards the sheep, threw his arms in the air and ran at them full speed screaming “Ahhhh!!!!” The sheep were not impressed. Nor did they appreciate it when he poked their noses and yelled “gose!” (his word for nose). Finn ran on indifferently from sheep to sheep, he was just in heaven with all the animals. We were going to head to more animals when we realized that the bear show would be starting.

You know you’ve been going to fairs too long when they introduce the family that takes care of the bears and you lean to your husband and say “wow, Johnny Jr. sure has grown up!” We’d seen this show before, in fact it was the inspiration behind that age-old, ongoing debate amongst our friends: ‘bear vs. crocodile?’ Which led to ‘bear vs shark?’ ‘shark vs. crocodile?’, etc. I personally say crocodile would win, hands down. I’ve seen enough Crocodile Hunter to make an educated guess.

We went to get some ice cream and then headed into the commercial building, where our extremely Democratic friend (shocking, I know) saw the St Joe Republicans booth and his eyes lit up. He engaged a couple of them in a lively conversation. One guy just had no idea what he was talking about but the other guy was actually pretty informed so they got into it a little, with Patrick jumping in. It was pretty entertaining. Inspired, we went from there to the St Joe Democrats booth, where we registered to vote and signed up for the local Young Dems club.

About this time, Finn started to melt down so we decided to head on out. All in all, it was a classic fair experience. Next weekend, the Elkhart County Fair is on, complete with llama obstacle courses, demolition derby, and sea lion show.

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One Response to “To the Fair!”

  1. Cody July 17, 2009 at 5:55 am #

    I’m offended that you went to the bear show without me. By the way, Johnny Jr. settled the bear vs. crocodile debate definitively so let us never speak of it again.

    I truly will be hurt if you attend the demolition derby without at least giving me a call and some notice.

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