I have a confession to make. I like fairs.
I like the lights, the energy, the people-watching, the community, the livestock, and… some seriously indulgent fair food. Maybe it’s because the fair was such a big deal in my somewhat rural hometown. We even got a few days off school.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blind to the less savory parts: the dirt, the public drunkenness, the often questionable entertainment, the shady characters, the rickety rides.
In fact, a few years ago, my husband and I had a fair-related revelation of sorts. After riding a “thrill” ride, we both seemed to notice every rusty screw and creaky sound. While strolling around, we found ourselves continually commenting on the fun-having families surrounding us. We gazed longingly at kids perched atop Daddy-shoulders and Mommies baby-wearing. Our suspicions seemed confirmed; we were “ready” to join the parent set. (Or just getting old…)
Fast forward to now. We are in the ranks; experiencing the fair through our little girls’ eyes.
This year we enjoyed a salty dinner complete with mountain of curly fries, braved the petting zoo, and made our way to the livestock barns. The little one demonstrated her growing knowledge of animal sounds; belting out “moos” and “baas” to anything on four legs. There were delighted squeals at playing goats and blissful smiles while stroking soft rabbit coats.
And then…the rides.
This year I went ahead and bought some discounted advance purchase ride tickets, anticipating a few rides for the big girl.
We started out slowly. First we rode the carousel. She sat tall in the saddle; wanting to enjoy herself, but wanting Mommy’s arms on her even more.
Next up was the ferris wheel with Daddy; a father-daughter tradition of sorts (ok- so its only the second year- see below). The tiny one took a break from flirtations with innocent line-standers to join me for some fresh squeezed lemonade, while Dad and big sis waited for the painfully slow loading and unloading process that pretty much defines a ferris wheel ride.
But then, on the kiddie roller coaster… someone went and grew up.
I got on with our three and a half-year old on her first go-round. We sat side by side in the front seat.
I glance to my right to see her gripping the bar as we take off. I can’t take my eyes off her as a delighted grin spreads over her face. Her eyes wide and sparkling with that magical mix of fun and fear. She is visibly thrilled when she hears the screams of the kids behind her. She heartily lifts her voice to join in the crazed chorus.
Head thrown back, cheeks flushed, hair streaming. She was transformed.
Before my eyes, my prim pre-schooler becomes a full-fledged kid.
“Again! Again! Let’s go again,” she pleads breathlessly as we pull in.
From that point on, she found her way; sliding slides, bouncing jeeps, obstacle courses, and the dragon roller coaster again. This time emphatically by herself.
Out of the corner of her eye though, she was making sure we were there…watching.
Slow down. Not so fast little one.
Last year 2010: a tentative two-year-old
Next year…there may be a wristband involved. Have mercy!
Sorry! No pics this year. We’re still recovering from an, uh, camera incident.
What about you? What is your favorite fair food? Do you let your kids ride the rides?