The younger set decided that we should go to the fair despite the well known fact that the hottest days of the year always arrive during Fair Week. Mom and Dad agreed as long as everyone slathered on the sunscreen and we went on opening day when the place still had the clean new-ness about it (that's the part I put in). Elizabeth and Matthew stayed home -- they've had their fair share of fair-ness over the years. Gary went early to assess the crowds and came home to announce chaos at all intersections and arteries (BIG shock), so he had a plan. We would park at our friend's restaurant, The Swiss House (watch for a future post on this 5-star chef and his wife), and then walk to the fair. Sounded good to me and the girls, so we loaded into the truck and took off.
After parking, we popped into the restaurant to see Karl and Lily. Lily wouldn't let us get away without some refreshments first. A unique "Shirley Temple" (her special twist on the perennial favorite that we affectionately refer as a"Lily Pai," her maiden name) for each girl and a good old-fashioned ice water for the parents.
Once fully refreshed, we set out for the fair. We walked ... ...and we walked ... ...and we walked ...
...'til we arrived at the entrance. (Bless you Lily for knowing we would need that extra fluid.) Once inside, the magic took over. The colorful midway delighted our every sense. The flashing colors, zinging sounds, and carnival fragrance of popcorn and cotton candy replaced those two parents with two more kids. The four of us set out to have fun at the fair. We made our way past the rides and games (saving those for later) and headed to the livestock barns.
The cattle provided little in the way of entertainment as they lounged in the path of the giant fans. It would have been a pleasant place to linger except for ... well, I'm sure you can guess which sense (or scents) compelled us to move along. Next we came up to the sheep stalls. These guys and gals offered much more in the way of friendly exchange, though the heat had them panting and sleeping for the most part. This fellow greeted me warmly, bleating just enough to get my attention.
Just up the hill the poultry and rabbits bid us welcome. The popularity of this section coupled with a decided unwillingness to pose on many of the residents part, left me with only this dapper fellow to represent the lot. The rabbits refused to do anything but pant in large heaps surrounded by lots of eager kids with poking fingers. We smiled at Peter and company and moved on.
We had chosen to save the favorites (pigs and goats) for last. They have always entertained reliably and produced babies and miniatures for us to giggle and coo over. We entered at the BIG pig section and caught these porkers during rest time. I believe this guy may have won his ribbon by a nose. This guy just cracked me up as he guzzled away at the drinking spigot. He must have been really sucking because he drained all the life out of my battery. This was the very last pic I got!
When Gary announced that the battery was dead, my mouth dropped open. "What!" I squealed, surrounded by squealers. "You're kidding?" Of course he gave me the why-would-I-be-kidding look. Hrmph! I pouted. "What about all the cute piglets right over there? And the goats? I just love those little pygmy goats!" My mini-tantrum did nothing to improve the battery situation and everything to drain the life out of our livestock-viewing experience. So, I decided to just enjoy the rest of the day and rely on words to fill in the gaps.
We proceeded to coo over the baby piggies, both Berkshire (my favorite with the black and pink coat) and the all-pink Yorkshire. [Disclaimer: I know NOTHING about pigs, I merely read the signs. If I've gotten it wrong please forgive me and inform your children of the correct pig appearances.] Then we hopped over to the goats in time for a judging session. Now, I will also admit that I know absolutely nothing about judging goats. As I stood there watching all those cute little kids and their cute little goats I could see right away who would win. That little girl in the middle with the darling and oh-so-well-behaved little goat had the perfect poise and performance. No matter what the judge barked out she did it and that little goat followed her lead perfectly. Other participants were bleating, running amok, and creating some pretty serious chaos, but not this team. I then continued down the line and picked all the "winners." When the ribbons came out my choices came in dead last. "What?" I thought, and then I heard the judge explain that showmanship, though valuable, cannot mask the inherent defects in the animals. So even a well-behaved (and smart, by my assessment) animal may not possess winning qualities. As that sweet girl stood at the end of the line with her goat I smiled and nodded to her ... she knew her goat was a winner; she didn't need a ribbon to convince her.
After petting the favorite of all animals for me, the Nubian goats, we ventured off to the hand-washing station and then down food alley. This adorable miniature town offers a vast array of food and drink options. I couldn't wait to indulge in a Cornish pastie (a local tradition around here brought over by the Welsh miners) or one of those fabulous looking knishes from the Jewish booth. (I have no love for the typical fair fare of corn dogs and french fries washed down with a soda -- no way!) As my mouth was watering I overheard Rachel pleading to have a quick drink of water and get over to the rides and games. I grabbed one of those knishes with the waters (and YES it was scrumptious) and later managed to get one of those pasties while Lydia ate a pretzel (Rachel and Gary had already departed for the Midway). Somewhere along the way we watched the dog races -- amazingly fast little doggies -- and viewed the produce, artwork, crafts, and so on.
As with all Fair Days, we ended at the Midway with a fistful of frightfully over-priced tickets and contented ourselves to wait in long lines in the heat for those oh-so-spinny moments of thrill on a lighted, metal contraption that forces me to suspend all fear and simply trust that the necessary inspections really did occur. While Rachel and I waited in line for the last ride of the day, Lydia and Gary went in search of stuffed rewards. Rachel and I waaaaaaittttteeeeeed foreeeeeeeeeever for the Ferris Wheel to load and turn a few revolutions and then load again with our group. Once the attendant locked us in and began the slooooooow ascent-load-ascent-load routine, Rachel decided that she felt afraid. "What?" I stammered, "Of what?" "The rocking," she replied matter-of-factly. "The man said no rocking, and every time he stops to load someone we rock." I sat mutely, looking around at the rusty frame, the missing light bulbs, and the generally shabby appearance of the whole contraption that we had just paid $8.00 to ride. What to do? I hadn't an ounce of grey matter left to throw at this one. "Sorry sweetie," I soothed, "Just hold on to me and we'll get off when we can.
As we soared higher and higher with each stop-to-load event, I looked around at the gyrating, churning, perilous carnival monsters that people eagerly jumped into and I cringed. Rachel, however, had studied the Ferris Wheel action and perfected a way to lean forward at each stop and prevent the car from rocking. She intently performed this deed about 12 TIMES (as we sat in car #2 of 16 and it took her a load or two to find a solution). When the wheel had taken on the full complement the man let her roll. I assured Rachel the ride would be quick -- little did I know that the man in charge of the throttle gave each group a 1-cigarette time limit; he puffed through one cigarette while we rode. Simple: smoking ends, so does the ride. Interesting ... until I noticed that a guy had engaged him in conversation and he had ceased puffing. "AAAAAHHHH! Start smoking!" I screamed in my head. "I want off this thing!" However my placid manner betrayed me and the man merely smiled as we went around AGAIN! With his last puff I groaned with relief. We exited at our appointed turn and I felt all the energy rush out of me. "Hey Mom," Rachel shouted, "That was really fun once we got up there. I saw some really neat rides. What do you want to go on next.?" Her eager little face smiled up at me. I turned and smiled up at Gary. "How 'bout our truck?" He replied.
My darling husband walked back for the truck alone and returned to pick up three very tired gals who carried plenty of stuffed toys and happy memories home from The Fair.