Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Our State Fair, Part Two

My short visit to our State Fair on Sunday was pleasant. I sat with two other women in a booth in the Arts and Crafts Building, we three representing three different needlework organizations in the Twin Cities. (I hadn’t realized there were three of them.) We each brought a small project to work on between talking with people who stopped to see what we were doing and who we represented. The Fair was packed with people, the weather being nice (temps in the low eighties but low humidity), so we got to answer a lot of questions and hand out a lot of information. And a few simple cross-stitch patterns to interested children. Some people recognized me and wondered where my fancy hat was. But almost all my hats have either big brims or come down past my eyebrows, making it hard while sitting down to talk to people who are standing up. Besides, I wasn’t there as Monica Ferris the author but Monica Ferris the member of Embroiderers Guild of America.

The three-hour shift went quickly and I went out into the thick masses. I stopped at an ice cream stand for a root beer float, and sat down at a picnic table with some strangers to enjoy it. It turned out the woman across from me, there with two children, was from California, here on a visit and who came to the Fair on impulse. “Isn’t there anything to do here besides eat?” she complained. I told her about the building not too far away where pregnant farm animals were brought to give birth in public, an educational experience for children and adults. That being more like it, she took the kids off to see it. What was interesting was that the building in whose shade we were sitting was full of show horses, the building across the street was half full of sheep and half full of poultry, and across another street were the pigs and beyond them were the cattle. And less than two blocks away was the midway, with its exciting rides and silly games – you know, ring toss or break the balloon, win a prize. There are none so blind, I guess.

Speaking of silly games, I saw a young man and woman carrying the most enormous stuffed animal I’ve ever seen. It was a speckled cow, and almost as large as a real one. I wonder what he did to win that thing? They didn’t seem to be heading out of the fairgrounds, and I wonder if they were still pleased with their prize after an evening of lugging it around. And how did they get it home? I don’t think the driver would let them on the bus with it, and unless they were driving an SUV, they’d’ve had to tie it to the roof of their car. The phrase “catch and release” occurs.

Did a boyfriend ever win a really big prize at a fair for you? It didn’t happen to me. Nor did I ever win one for myself. I did work at a carnival game for a week one summer long ago. Very enlightening. But that’s a story for another time.


Linda O. Johnston said...

No one ever won anything like that for me, Monica, but I love your description of that huge stuffed cow! Maybe I'd better head for a fair to see if I can win one for myself.

BeadKnitter said...

Fairs are so much fun! How could anyone think there's nothing to do. The mind boggles.

When I was single a young man who was just a friend, not a boyfriend, to cheer me up, won a giant Snoopy dog for me at a carnival in Spokane, Washington. I named it Spokey. He's still around. (Spokey, that is. Dale and I lost touch with each other after I got married. I miss him. He was a good friend.

Rochelle Staab said...

I love State Fairs! I was born in Wisconsin, the Dairy State, so the fair meant cows, lots and lots of cows, and cream puffs. The most amazing cream puffs ever and worth the flight just to have one. Lately I've been curious about the Fried Fad. Deep fried Oreos? Deep fried butter?

Sad to say I never had a boyfriend with carnival "skills." My BF crew (blush, there were a few) never rose to the challenge so I never came home with a stuffed animal or a goldfish in a bag. But I always made them take me on rides. I had my ride technique down pat.

Monica, you MUST share your adventure behind the counter at the carnival game and tell us what carnival life is like behind the scenes!

Betty Hechtman said...

I have had the same thought when I've seen people carrying those huge animals they've won.

Personally, I pass on the food booths at the L.A. County fair. All that deep fired stuff seems like a stomach ache in the making.

Carol S said...

There is a lot of stuff to do at the fair besides eat. I love looking at all the crafts, some of the farm animals, the booths selling stuff made within the state, etc. Since I do not like midway rides, we stay away from them. When we were first married (decades ago) the first Win A Prize place we stopped at inside the fair took all but a couple of our dollars trying to win that stupid stuffed animal. We had money left for a drink but not enough to eat. That broke us of ever hitting a midway again.

Monica Ferris said...

Getting some wonderful responses to my post! Beadknitter, you are the first person I know of who kept their giant stuffed animal for more than just a few months. Go Spokey! Rochelle, I grew up in Wisconsin and well remember those fabulous cream puffs. Our state fair has them, too, but they're not the same. I'll have to think awhile about telling stories about my one stab at working at a carnival. They're a close-knit bunch, and most have an us-versus-them attitude. They work hard and many of them party hard as well.