Every summer, I look forward to the Sonoma County Fair. I remember the days when my parents would take me and my brother to the much larger Alameda County Fair. We had to go through all the exhibits before getting to the carnival. My mom wanted to look at every home arts display (quilts, dresses, sweater, then jams, jellies, etc.), painting, photograph, and new inventions being hawked in one of the huge buildings. Groan.
Recently, while Rick and I stood in line to get into the Fair, I heard a lady tell her children, “You can eat all the junk food you want! And we’ll go to the carnival.” Hallelujah! I wanted to hug her!
My brother and I had to wait until dark. And you know how long that is in the summer! We could hear the music and shrieking laughter coming from the rides. We could see the Ferris Wheel and the Hammer. We could smell the popcorn, corn dogs, cotton candy. It was torture! Or perhaps it was a lesson in delayed gratification.
Eventually, we all made it to the carnival, and woooo-eeeee, what fun! My favorite ride was the Tilt-a-Whirl. Another was the Round-Up. The Ferris Wheel terrified me (in a good way). I hated being stuck on top. And all around the rides and between them were games of chance. I spent all my nickels and dimes trying to win a bear that probably would have cost less in a department store (and been of higher quality), but I did win a few gold fish. Sadly, they died. Not from lack of loving care. Probably too much of it. One leaped out of the bowl, committing suicide on our kitchen counter.
Rick accompanied me to the fair. He was a good sport. We spent our time wandering through the home art displays, the hall filled with paintings and photographs, the building packed with new and old inventions and hawkers trying to lure you in. I call that place The Gauntlet. (Oh, my word! I’ve turned into my mother!) I lingered at the fudge booth and had to be hauled by the pistachios dipped in every flavor imaginable. I also stumbled and tripped my way by the tie-dye booth and the hanging lamps from India, the leather goods from Mexico and the alpaca sweaters from South America and the… Alas. We made it out without a single purchase.
We never did make it to the carnival. But then I’m getting to the age where I get vertigo without paying for a ticket on the Tilt-a-Whirl. All I have to do is watch something spinning around to become dizzy. Meclizine, anyone?
I asked Rick if he wanted Fair food. He looked around, looked at me, and I knew the answer. We stopped at a favorite Chinese restaurant on the way home.
I may have to sneak back to the Fair and buy a bag (or two) of cotton candy. And then there are the gyros and the funnel cakes and then…
Good thing the Fair is only here once a year.