When I was growing up, the arrival of the Mid-South Fair was one of the highlights of the year. My parents, long-time Fair enthusiasts, would even check my sister and I out of school each year so we could beat the crowds on wristband day. Naturally when I became a mother, I looked forward to taking my own offspring to the Fair. Only somehow I managed to breed with a Fair hater. My husband does not like crowds, fried food, or rides (yes, he is afraid of rides!), so the Fair really has nothing for him. He doesn't know what he's missing.
My first attempt at taking any of our kids to the fair did not go well. Calvin at age three was afraid of the rides (faulty genes), had not developed a proper appreciation for food involving funnels, boiling oil, and powdered sugar, and quickly tired of walking around. I didn't try again until last year, when my parents and I teamed up to take the three of my four kids who were in existence at the time. (Come to think of it, I must have gotten pregnant with Genevieve right after that.) They were 7, 4, and 3 then, and I suspected that they would all three be afraid to ride more than a tame kiddie ride or two, so I went the ticket route rather than spring for the $20 armband (all you can ride). That was a mistake. They loved the rides and begged for more, more, more! Unfortunately, they were also mesmerized by the games and the booths festooned with giant-headed Dora and Spongebob baloons on a stick. Afterwards, my Mom came up with the bright idea of collecting change in a coffee can so that this year they could ride more and play more and buy more (and of course, eat more). I think we managed a whopping $22.35, but wristbands were nevertheless purchased, one game was played, and much food on sticks and in paper cones was eaten.
Once we arrived and got through the traumatic childhood flashback that was my dad parking, we made our way to the kids' area just inside the gate. The first ride in sight was the caterpillar coaster, and all three kids went for it as of their whole lives had led up to that moment. I was so proud! But it wasn't long before Somerset came back down the steps saying she was scared. No biggie--it was a scary ride. Joshua stuck to his guns, but looked terrified all during the ride and came off saying in his funniest growly yell "I am never, ever riding that again!" Not to be scared off, though, they all rode just about every ride in the kids' area, (although after one or two, Joshua put a firm ban on rides that went up into the air). I had originally planned to sit out the rides, figuring I'd have Genevieve, who is three months old, in the sling the whole time as I usually do. But at the last minute I decided to strap her seat onto the little seatless stroller thingy I keep in the back of the sassy-mobile, and for once she loved it. I went ahead and got a wristband, which was a good thing, otherwise I would have missed the experience of sitting inside a giant, spinning, 90 degree metal strawberry with a farting five-year-old who was not at all certain he wanted to be in there. On a positive note, Calvin and I rode a really fun ride where you lie on your stomach and fly through the air like Superman, side by side above the crowds. Later he said that was his favorite part of the fair. No small compliment coming from an 8-year-old boy who's been waiting all year for this weekend in September. Somerset and I were cheated out of riding the bumper cars together by the guy at the door who was a stickler for the pesky "You must be this tall" rule. On a high note, I rode the swings all by myself, and it was just like I remebered. I held my slip-on sandals in my lap for fear of having one fly off and take out a pedestrian, and as I flew around in circles high above the crowd I was grateful for the distance between it and my pedicure-deprived feet. But back at casa Sassy, Somerset let me know that there was a "brown spot" on the bottom of my foot as I rode the swings. Eew! That's what happens when you wear sandals to the fair. Oh well, I still came out ahead of the extremely large woman wearing an extremely small tank top with a good three feet of belly hanging out between it and her stretchy pants.