Saturday, August 17, 2013

State Fairs

It's fair time. Both county and state fairs are either underway or coming up. I don't know if people from other countries do something similar, but it's called The Great Minnesota Get-together here.  Our fair is huge.

I have a lot of memories of going to the fair. That's where I first developed a love of corn dogs, or pronto-pups depending on the stand. My dad was always eating something as we walked around. He was like Brad Pitt in Ocean's Eleven. Just a good deal shorter and without his fashion sense.

A boy I dated just before high school took me to the fair. Apparently his mom used to work it every summer so I was able to see things I'd never had access to before. It was an entirely different experience for me. It was also my best, and worst, visit to the midway. I love rides but my parents didn't so my brother and I were only allowed to choose a couple of them. This time around, I got to ride as many rides as I wanted and it was fun and the crowds were down so we didn't have the usual long lines. We were the only ones to get on one exciting ride. Too bad the guy running it was evil. It was the longest ride of my life and my boyfriend and I were both screaming at this goon to stop the blasted thing every time we spun back toward the ground. I saw his maniacal grin as he watched us go by over and over again.  It was several years before I ventured back to the fair after that.

My next visit to the fair was as a newlywed. It was less than a week after our wedding and we went with friends. A double date. I was already holding a toy my new husband had won for me and watching while he tried to win a prize for the other girl in our party next when I was unexpectedly groped from behind. I'm talking two big unfamiliar hands on my breasts. It was a sneak-attack cupping. The guy was gone while my mouth was still hanging open. We decided to move on after that and ended up at the haunted house. It was a busy, popular place and I was all for it until I saw people darting through a dark corridor ahead of me while long arms and even longer fingers clawed and reached for them. I came to a complete standstill. I did not want to be grabbed by more strangers so I refused to go on. The line backed up behind me and people tried to prod me forward but I wouldn't budge. I may have thrown out my hands and locked myself against the wall, I don't know. The next thing I knew, there was a pile of people on the floor behind me, my husband and friends included in that tangled mix. Luckily my sweetheart understood what was upsetting me and he hurried me through, using his body to block those foreign hands. My husband lost his hat in the melee but a guy noticed it and picked it up on his way through. He held it up as he walked out and hubs was able to claim it. Fortunately, no one got hurt and we were all able to laugh at my panic attack. I'm not surprised he hasn't taken me since.

A part of me wishes we'd taken a trip to the fair with our kids. It would be quite a drive for us but they've never experienced it. That's a shame. Every year I hear about more foods on a stick, more yummy things to try. I start craving fresh funnel cake sprinkled in powdered sugar. There are usually big acts performing live music. I love outdoor concerts. I'll probably never venture into another haunted house, and I'll be looking at the gentle rides from now on with more interest than I used to give them, but I'd like to watch the horse shows, see the animals, visit the craft barn. Maybe it's time I took my parents. My dad and I can both walk around with corn dogs and big smiles.

- Tara Mills


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