It’s that time of year again. Time for the State Fair. Every year the first week of August, the fair comes to town. Every year we go to the fair. Every year it’s exactly the same. But you know what, every year we have a great time! There’s something about the familiarity that is appealing. Your life may have changed this year,things may be different, but as soon as you step onto the fairgrounds you are surrounded by the sights, sounds, and smells that you remember from last year.
So we head to the fair. The day is hot and humid and will most likely end in a gusty storm that will cause families to race for their cars. My son is in 4H so our first stop is always the small animal barn. The barn is packed to the brim with bunnies, chickens, guinea pigs, rats, and all other sorts of animals. Each one is the pride and joy of some child. Our “joy” is a guinea pig named Jamokis. Later in the evening Jamokis and my son will compete in the small animal show. Right now though we walk up and down the aisles of the barn, my kids on the lookout for the largest rabbit and the chicken with the most outrageous feathers. A large fan whirls away in the front yet does little to break the stifling heat.
We continue down the row of barns. These do not smell as nice as the animals in them become larger and larger with each barn. Goats to pigs to sheep to cows. Animals are petted and patted and attempted to be fed. Then it’s on to the farm equipment barn. One of my husband’s favorites. We watch the old equipment while old timers explain how each piece works and we marvel at what people had to go through just to plant corn or wash their clothes. A quick stop next store brings us to the bees and the bee keepers. My kids get a honey stick while my husband chats with the bee keeper, reminiscing. My mother-in-law was the Honey Queen at the fair one year. It’s how she met my father-in-law. Her family kept bees. I guess if it weren’t for this fair or bees my husband would not exist!
By now everyone is hungry. Every year we complain about the food prices, but we should know better because this too is something that remains a constant. I tell everyone to choose one snack and off we go down the crowded food aisle. We are assaulted by a mixture of wonderful fair smells. Meat on a stick, cotton candy, gyros, french fries, and fried anything you can think of (this year in addition to Oreos, pickles, and veggies, I saw fried Pop Tarts!). After a couple passes up and down to make sure we have seen all the food the fair has to offer, everyone settles on something different. We divide and conquer to wait in the endless lines. That first bite makes it all worth it!
Now full from our extremely unhealthy snacks someone decides that it is the perfect time to ride the rides. You absolutely cannot go to the fair without going on some rides. The rides are always the same. Bright flashing lights, loud music blaring from each, faded paint, insanely overpriced, but fun! We limit the number of rides and my kids each choose their favorite. They are all dare devils and choose the fastest scariest rides that their height will allow. They wait and wait and hop on the ride now a little fearful. The ride starts and jerks and bumps and speeds them upside down. It ends with a jolt and they emerge with huge smiles on their faces, jumping up and down and filling us in on every second of that 2 minute ride.
Next stop is a game. We head to find one that may possibly allow a child to actually win some sort of prize when we run into some friends. This has been going on the entire day because everyone attends the fair. It’s just what you do around here the first week of August. As our children play, we adults talk, complaining of the prices and asking each other if we have seen this person or that. Some of our friends our heading to the Demolition Derby (a bunch of cars smashing into each other while onlookers cheer; only at a state fair) but not us tonight. We all head over together to the game the kids have all chosen to play. Deep in conversation, we do not notice until it is too late where the kids have dragged us. Yes, you guessed it, the goldfish game! We spend $30 in order to win 4 goldfish which will all be dead and buried in our backyard with little gravestones by the end of next week. But for now everyone is thrilled.
It’s late as we make our way back to the car. The lights from the fair light up the humid night. We are dirty and sticky and tired…and happy! Yes it was exactly the same as last year, but that’s part of the appeal. We pass a sign as we leave the parking lot, “See You Next Year”. Yes you will!