Saturday, September 5, 2009

Fair? They Should Call It Great!

The title of this post is also the title of a 1987 newspaper article my brother and I wrote for The Miami Herald about the Dade County Youth Fair...

We made the 2-hour trek down to illustrious town of Pueblo to attend the Colorado State Fair today. To be honest, I was fairly amped to see the 'freak show' that was profiled in the newspaper (yes, the one I hold in my hands--I'm one of the last remaining few that actually enjoys seeing a paper on my doorstep each morning). I had no idea freak shows still existed--you'd think they would have gone by the wayside with various disability rights groups demanding that it be called the Unique Sights Exhibit, or some similar politically correct but not nearly as intriguing name. Anyway, I'm sad to say that I completely forgot about the freak show until we were on the way home; we never happened upon it and it was not listed in the fair brochure we were handed upon entrance. I can only imagine it was part of some secret-handshake, underground part of the fair that only those select few that get the daily paper could gleefully witness. Despite that letdown, the day was packed with entertainment, glaring sun, greasy foods, and crowds the way a State Fair should be.

In an effort to avoid wasting too much money on cheap, plastic crap, we told the boys they could choose one item during the day that they absolutely had to have (a la Tim Gunn's Guide to Style). Jackson found his holy grail at the first attraction--the Shark Encounters show. As we walked up, Jackson exclaimed, "I SO hope I get to ride on a shark's back!". I guess the fair couldn't write a waiver that would absolve them from any litigation surrounding shark rides, but we did see a witty show and Jackson left with his prized item--a shark tooth necklace ($10).

One of the highlights of the day (for me) was our snuggle with sea lions. I've never given sea lions much thought, but they now rank pretty high on my Cute Animal Scale. They just wiggled right up and put their sleek, wet heads on our shoulders. I wasn't quite sure how Kenyon would react, but he just reached out, petted one and said, "Wet."

Alex's favorite alter ego is Gumball the Guinea Pig, and he can wile away many an hour squeaking, "Wee wee wee", scampering around like a cavy, and telling me that I am his owner. Sometimes Sam and I play along for a while, and then get busy doing something else. An hour and a half later we're wondering why Alex is in the corner making squeaking noises and we'll look at each other incredulously and say, "Oh my gosh, is he STILL playing that game?". I can only hope his attention span will be that hearty in geometry class. Imagine his glee when we happened upon the Human Hamster Wheel--he was a natural.

After much deliberation over at the cheap crap tent, Alex chose a plastic sword and sheath ($5) as his must-have item. Now, we don't allow guns, toy or otherwise, in our home, but little boys will make guns out of anything and everything. Not kidding--Alex chews his toast into the shape of an automatic weapon and will shoot his brother with it. Anyway, for some reason we find medieval weapons more appropriate. We have at least five other types of swords at home, but this sword, that cost probably 4 cents to make the deluxe version embedded with lead in China, this sword meant everything to Alex and he was enthralled with it for the rest of the day (until he poked Sam in the back of the head with it on the drive home, and it was taken away).

The main event, of course, was Mutton Bustin', aptly dubbed 'The Toughest Sport on Wool'. We're city folk, mind you, and don't have much experience with farm animals outside of helping Grandpa care for the chickens at Plantation Tree Farm.

The boys checking out the competition while Alex holds his prized sword

Alex had no desire to mingle with the sheep, but Jackson signed up (the Fair does have a waiver for parents to sign their kid's life away to ride sheep) and the following ensued:

He only stayed on half as long as the other time he's done this, but I'm proud of him for having the confidence to do things that are out of his comfort zone, and he is pleased with another ribbon to add to the one he won from his fishing derby.

We all left exhausted--Kenyon looked like this, and the rest of us didn't look much different. A successful family outing, and thankfully there are still two more days of this holiday weekend to recuperate.

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