Saturday, July 31, 2010

Heart of America

Every year in the month of August, the fair sets up in Springpatch. It brings with it all of the traditional sights and sounds...and smells. There are rides, barking carneys, funnel cakes galore and plenty of exhibits and booths to peruse.

I made my way to the fair today braving these awful dog days of summer. For me, the best thing about the local fair is the sense of nostalgia it brings with it. I have lots of memories of fairs over the years. Going back is just like looking through an old photo album.

I wonder why they sell so many knives at fairs? After all, fairs attract scores of young people, most of whom are wrestling with their adolescent tendencies. Do you really need a knife at a fair? Is a fair Man VS Wild territory where a knife is absolutely essential kit? I'm not convinced, but I bought a butterfly knife at a fair a few years ago because...one never knows.

Being a carnival barker must be a lot of fun. Put me up on the dunking booth and dress me in a clown suit all day long. Personally, I would love to have free license to insult passers by. "Hey bald guy. Is that really your head? Hey...I thought I saw the girl you're with yesterday with another guy...a guy with hair."

Seems like fun.

I tried my hand at being a carnival barker today. Stepping up to a vendor booth, I made a concerted effort to convince the salesgirl to throw a ceramic frog at a wandering visitor for one dollar. Surprisingly, she was up for it. I ran into a bit of a hitch when she realized that she was paying me a dollar to throw her own frog. I managed to make things right, however, when I reminded her that she could trade up for another item she owned of greater value if she could knock someone over.

I am now ten dollars richer. And the vendor has been arrested. I confess...my game was rigged.

I dont bother riding the rides at a fair. It used to be fun riding the rides when I brought a date who was a bit of a day tripper. She recoiled in horror at the though of riding the ferris wheel. Without a date at my side, rides lose their inherent sex appeal. Again...you never know.

Who came up with the idea of giving out goldfish for game prizes at the fair? That sounds more like a college prank gone wrong. Live animal prizes? Can I win a cat or something? I'd rather win a pet I dont have to flush. I spent some quality time tracking down the cat booth...but never found it.

There is a new sport at the fair in which little kids ride sheep rodeo style. It's a genius idea and I waited around for hours trying to get a glimpse of this sort of thing. Back home in Texas, riding sheep got you into a whole lot of trouble with the ranch manager. At the fair, it seems like real entertainment value. I would have put the helmet on and tried it myself. But sheep are dangerous.

I always enjoy the exhibits where people can win prizes for art, photography, crafts, agriculture and the like. I keep my eye out for really good stuff...and really bad stuff. The rest is just a blur. I dont know what makes one tomato that much better than another, but I was impressed by little Angela Peter's 4th grade watercolor of prison life. The 4th grade is obviously as hard as I remember it to be.

The fair is the best place in the world to people watch. When it is 100 degrees in the shade, everyone walks around listlessly...eyes all squinty. Fairs bring me back to my youth because of all of the high school kiddos wandering about like groups of varsity undead. You can always tell when a kid is freshly dating a girl because they are wrapped around each other wherever they go. Its as if one of them is afraid to let go.

Hmm. Maybe I'm doing something wrong here! When I find a good girl I should......Squirrel~!!

Fair prizes really arent that cool. I have no place to put this colossal Scooby Doo. I wish they could just offer the prizes based on what you really wanted. For example...I would like some travel vouchers or some more guitar gear. A stuffed dog?? Really? Why?

Fairs are Heart of America kind of things. I honestly hope they never change. I'd be disappointed if the carneys showered or if the rides operated safely all the time. What's the world without a decent Ferris Wheel? I want a strongman hammer test. I want my weight guessed. And I feel better having had my future discerned by the professional palm reader reading 'Ladies Home Journal' in a tent.

I have no doubt that another visit to the fair is in my future sometime. You never can have enough ACDC posters after all.


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