A “Fairly” Good Time
Well, Fall is in the air, and it’s once again County Fair time. I love the rides, the food, the games, and the atmosphere, and last night couldn’t have been a more perfect opening night.
A carnival is a wonderful experience when you have a small child, and with my little one being 3 and a half, it is the perfect time. As soon as we rounded the bend and the midway lights came into view, she began dancing about wildly in her car seat, eyeing the giant Ferris wheel first of all. Shaking with anticipation, squealing in delight, and sometimes forgetting to breath, her head darted from side to side with her bright blue eyes wide open, not missing a thing. This was not her first fair, but I think it will be the first that she remembers; somewhat put off by the crowds, noises and lights last time, she became fully immersed with the whole affair this year.
We watched the demolition derby first, which brought cackles and howls as the cars crashed and spun wildly in the dirt before us. Moving along to the animals brought mixed emotions, she wasn’t to sure about the rather large longhorn steer, but the smaller, petable animals delighted her. Although she was somewhat put off by the smell in the tent. Entering the midway one finds the food, games, and craft exhibits first, but as we left the animal tent and rounded the bend, all of the rides came into full view. She once again became overwhelmed, with the sounds, lights, and screaming ride goers, on each side of her. She sat, somewhat mesmerized in her stroller, taking it all in, and then began laughing wildly, and pointing at all the silly people on the rides. I will purchase an unlimited ride band, and we normally buy individual ride coupons for her, not knowing what she will actually ride. She has been known to be a little wishy-washy, and decide not to ride soon after being strapped in or as a carny tries to help her into a ride. But this year she began pointing out things she wanted to do very emphatically, so, we reluctantly purchased her a ride band, thinking it was going to be a waste.
Now the proud owner of a bright orange armband like Daddy’s, she was off to “do stuff”, and ride the rides. Several trips through the fun house later, and at least 15 trips down the giant slide, we began to realise that we may get our moneys worth after all. This years fair had a very good selection of grown-up rides, as well as a large number of kiddie ones. We danced from ride to next, with her running straight to the “go-nogo” yardstick outside of each ride. There were several that she didn’t quite reach, and couldn’t ride alone, so one of the adults was conned into cramming themselves into a ladybug, or some other creature and looking utterly foolish, for the sake of a child. Most of the rides she was able to ride alone, and sat proudly waving as she passed each time, beaming from ear to ear. Exiting one ride, she thanked the ride operator, and exclaimed “I’m big, I can ride by myself now,” strutting down the exit ramp like a peacock. Taking particular fancy to a dumptruck ride, she asked the lady if she could ride again, and with it being rather slow at the time, she told her she could ride as long as she wanted. So, the old folks took a much needed break, and rode the bench beside the ride as she happily delivered sand and gravel all over her imaginary town, blowing and waving madly with each circuit of the ride. It went on like that most of the night, with her working the carnies for all she was worth; “please, I don’t want to go, can I ride again?” So, on most rides, she just remained seated, and took another turn. There is something magical about that child, evoking smiles from even the most hardened of ride attendants, and melting them like putty in her hands. I think she is going a long way in this world, possibly even making a great politician one day.
We arrived early, around five-thirty, figuring to spend a few hours, but when the little one began riding everything in sight, time somehow ceased to exist. It was now well past midnight, we had a stroller full of plundered loot, and our bellies full on midway goodies. Mary was excited enough, but also starting to show some wear, so we made our way to the front gate, preparing to call it a night. She protested a little, “let me ride the dinosaur one more time… please..”, but she was too worn out to put up any real fight.
Worn completely out, she was asleep in her carseat clutching a stuffed animal she “won” herself, for five bucks, long before we loaded the van and left the parking lot.
With Mary asleep in the back, Recie and I just held hands and smiled at each other, nothing else needed to be said.
I am a lucky man.