Sunday, August 21, 2011

A fair-ly good time

It’s been 6 years since we moved to Oregon but not once have we attended the annual Lane County Fair. That changed yesterday.

By the time we got to the fairgrounds late in the day, the parking lots were filled, so hubby had to drive around and around neighboring streets to find someplace to park. During all that driving, I noticed how some people were charging fairgoers $5 to park in their front yards. After some time of driving, I suggested we just come back the next day. But hubby was determined to find somewhere to park. We were already there and he wasn’t going to give up just because he couldn’t find a parking space. Eventually, his determination paid off and we managed to park in front of a house two streets away from the fairgrounds. I was grateful for the nice weather as we walked.

I was also grateful for our timing. We arrived at the fair at dusk and all the lights were starting to come on. It was very pretty. As the sky grew darker, and the lights became brighter, Jesse was really mesmerized by all of the lights and special effects. Many times his dad had a hard time getting his attention because he couldn’t take his eyes off all of the lights! (Jennifer told me the music was loud, too. She could hear it all the way from where we parked! I asked her what kind of music it was and she said it was “fair music.”)

Of course, the kids wanted to go on EVERYTHING, but because the tickets cost so much, we had to be choosy. I definitely wanted the kids to go on a carousel, but we couldn’t find one. This was Jesse’s very first fair visit, so hubby and I both knew we had to be especially certain he went on some good rides.

Before we got to the fair, I was anticipating the kids having fun on the rides. What I didn’t expect was freaking out when my little baby was placed inside of the first ride. My heart was pounding in my chest and I had to keep myself from running to his seat and pulling him out of there. I was standing there thinking, MY BABY!!! This particular ride was the kiddie version of the swings. (You know, those swings people spin around a pole in?) I kept telling myself that this was a ride for kids. He’d met the height requirement. And, most of all, Jennifer was in the seat with him. Surely she would grab him if he started to slip out. (And they did have a strap that went between the legs so kids couldn’t slip out.) So I just watched, and prayed, as the ride started up. Thankfully, it was not as fast as the adult version. And he was fine. Phew! But I put my foot down later in the evening when they wanted to go on the adult version of that swing ride. I kept saying, “I don’t want him on that ride!” Hubby wanted to go on, too. But even with him, I was NOT going to allow Jesse on that ride. He already was on the kiddie version and that was good enough. (Hubby saw how upset this made me so thankfully he agreed not to put Jesse on that ride.)

When we got to rides that Jennifer was big enough for but not Jesse, then either I or hubby took Jesse to a kiddie ride or hubby went with Jennifer and I took Jesse to another ride. At one point, hubby even suggested I go find a ride I wanted to go on but I said I didn’t want to go on any. That changed when I saw The Haunted Mansion ride. I went nuts and said, “I wanna go on THAT one!” We all ended up going on that ride. I rode with Jennifer and as we went through the ride, I worried it might be a bit much for Jesse (who was riding with his dad). After we all got off of the ride, Jesse huddled close to Jennifer and they started talking. I asked hubby if the ride had scared him and he said, “A little bit.” After Jesse was done talking to Jennifer, he looked at me and said, “That ride was a little bit scary.” (Later that night, he told me again the “monsters” on that ride scared him.)

We ate our dinner at the fair. Two bacon cheeseburgers, two orders of fries, two hot dogs and 4 soft drinks. It cost us $43! The whole fair experience was pricey and I decided that, for next year, we will start saving EARLY if we want to go to the fair again.

Another thing about fairs is how they rig the games so very few people win the prizes. That night, Jennifer was introduced to the term “carnie” and I told her horror stories of how carnies trick people out of their money by fixing the games. Hubby shrugged it all off and told Jennifer she could go ahead and play one of the games. She really wanted to win something but she couldn’t knock over the stack of blocks with the baseball she was given.

Another thing Jennifer wanted to do at the fair was go on the Ferris wheel with her dad. She did get to do that – but unfortunately Jesse was too small for it. So while they were on that, he went on the kiddie airplane ride. Every time I looked at the lit-up Ferris wheel at the fair, I was reminded of the short story I’d written last week that Jennifer’s request had inspired me to write.

Jennifer also got to have some cotton candy – and Jesse, too – but she wasn’t able to play certain other games she’d hoped to play or win a goldfish. (Well, there’s always next year. I promised myself that next year I will drop the whole “carnies are EBIL!” warning and just let her play the games.)

Soon we ran out of tickets – and money to buy more tickets – so we had to go home. We’d been at the fair for 3 hours and we all agreed we had fun. As we walked to the car, my feet hurt from all that walking and my legs were dead. I told Jennifer I had gotten my exercise for the day. It was A LOT of walking!

But it was a lot of fun, too. Jesse had his very first fair experience and Jennifer got to have some good memories of going on rides with her dad. I’m glad we finally went to the Lane County Fair and look forward to going again next year.

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