Thursday, August 14, 2008

Growing up at the Fair

"The Fair"

Funny how two simple words can invoke such wistful, nostalgic feelings. I don't recall ever going to the fair as a child; but we've taken our kids to the local fair since we moved in 5 years ago. It's become one of my treasured summer must-do's.

Our Fair experience has evolved over the years; in the beginning we spent the majority of our time visiting with the animals. It was there that my children learned the differences between llamas and alpacas; got to watch cows nursing their young; and became familiar with the distinct smell that tells you the pigs are nearby. I have pictures of my little ones cuddling the baby lambs and staring at the staggering size of the draft horses. The fair was filled with moments of wonder, awe and exploration.

Last year we expanded our Fair adventures. In addition to the long wanderings through the stables and barns, we started spending more time around the carnival rides. Not quite tall enough for the main attractions, the boys had to be content conquering the children's rides. The little dragon roller coaster may not have been as exhilarating as some of the larger rides, but they enjoyed it and thought themselves to be quite cool holding their hands in the air the entire time. The highlight from last year's Fair rated super high on the cool meter. For the first time in their young lives, my guys got to experience a real concert. For an hour and a half, they stood and rocked out to Third Day.

This year my little guys have sprouted into big kids. No longer doomed to the children's area, we spent hour after hour taking them to all of the big rides. Names like Sizzler, Gravitron and Tornado seemed more intimidating than before since they were now big enough to ride them. They spent their first ride with hands clasped to the safety bar and serious grimaces on their face; but they soon found their "ride legs" and couldn't be contained. In between rides we made the important stops to play carnival games involving darts and BB guns. They visited the Army area for shooting practice and dog tags. And to the utter delight of this Mom's heart, before the night was over they still asked to walk through all of the animal exhibits.

While most of our Fair experience evolves through the years one thing remains the same---the amazing Fair food! I remember carnival food being the standard corndog, cotton candy and sno cone deal. While that is still plentiful at the fair, there is so much more to be found. There are many ethnic foods cooking within the fair; gyros, fajitas, stir fries, curries and Dutch specialties abound. You can choose from burgers, barbecue, roasted corn on the cob and the massive curly fry plates. For dessert you can get homemade moowiches from the dairy women; funnel cakes smothered with berries and whipped cream; warm elephant ears or churros; sundaes, floats and ice cream bars; or even fried oreos and milky ways. It's a feast for the eyes and nose; and it's probably a really good thing it only happens once a year!

The Fair will become, I hope, a treasured memory for my guys as well. I would love for the combination of rides, games, food, music, animals and our family to take root somewhere in their brains as time of great fun--a time they will want to share with their families later on as well.

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