So, off we went to the Kansas State Fair on Monday -- a regional grocery store chain was sponsoring a freebie special. We decided to focus on rides for an hour or so, then check out exhibits, food, and whatever else we could find on the cheap end of the scale. Joe took the older two boys to the far end of the midway and the bigger rides, while I watched Karl ride everything that interested him in kiddie land.
Something in me doesn't love a midway. We go to state and county ag fairs every year, but I prefer the events that omit the traveling rides and booths. The Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival is a perennial favorite, as is the expensive but very entertaining Maryland Renaissance Festival.
Carnival rides are always fun for the kids, but I am secretly suspicious of the soundness of their fly-by-night erection. I realize that the worry isn't completely rational, considering how we ride around on highways in cars all day long. So we do the rides. Well, they do.
I'm usually ambivalent about the hawkers trying to attract patrons with salutations, wolf whistles, and snarky comments aimed at passersby. Some are annoying, some are amusing. Some are entertaining for their sheer energy or the creativity of their spiel.
This day there was one who stood out for us. His voice was slightly higher-pitched than Eeyore's, but the inflection and excitement was a great impression of the sawdust donkey, as the carnie intoned this unenthusiastic dirge: "whaaack-a-mole….. whaaack-a-mole……"
I saw a woman with the most delicious looking potato-chips, which actually looked like they were all connected. Suddenly starving, I asked her where she had bought the beautiful thing. She pointed me to the gator-on-a-stick shack, where they were selling this lovely, brown-edged, deep-fried potato ribbon, all curled back in upon itself.
I bought a large one, bigger than my head, and offered to share it with the guys. But they were saving their stomachs for more rides and ultimately shared a funnelcake among the four of them. I ate most of the crispy, helical potato cloud, rushing to finish it before it got cold. It was being marketed as "gator taters". I don't think that name is adequately reflective of its glorious goodness, so I shall always think of it as The Tanglechip.
We didn't end up spending much time at the animal exhibits. The poultry house, as usual, housed long rows of cages full of birds at kid's-eye level, sawdust and feathers in the air. It's neat to see all the breeds, from bantams to turkeys. But I might be happier perusing a poster from the hatchery.
The petting zoo (with dixie cups of feed for sale) was mostly exotic animals: a kangaroo and a cavy, a young giraffe and a zebra foal, a lumbering giant tortoise. At least at the zoo they usually have some room and a bit of appropriate landscaping, maybe something to play with. It was equally exciting and depressing.
Bored with the animals, and noticing the after-school swell of visitors starting, we quickly used up the last of our tickets and ended our short fair day. We made some lovely memories, and every once in a while, we break out in a singsong drone: "whaaack-a-mole…."