Monday, September 22, 2008

ferris wheel

I lived near the Indiana State Fairgrounds as a kid and my father worked across the street from it. Each fall he'd take us and I'd sneeze my way through the barns and exhibit halls as we admired the biggest watermelon, the blue-ribbon bonsai, the fattest pigs and the noisy variety of chickens. Then as an adolescent, I attended at night. The same fairgrounds with fat cows and tractor displays had... rides. Lit up, loud with music and crowded with people. This was not my father's fairgrounds.

I hadn't been to a fair since those teen years, but Pook has been asking to ride a Ferris Wheel since he was two. I'm too wary of the corner carnivals and have driven out of my way to keep him from noticing them. Busch Gardens had no Ferris Wheel. American Adventures had a tiny, broken one. Then I saw an ad for the North Georgia State Fair with a picture of a Ferris Wheel and I was sold.

Due to various parenting adventures, we didn't get there until 5pm. Maybe this was a good time because there were hardly any lines. We went straight to the Ferris Wheel and had a chance to watch a group go before we boarded first for the next ride. All four of us were able to sit together in a basket. We had some fun looking around at the rest of the midway from mid height and then from the top while we waited for others to load. The Ferris Wheel isn't the most exciting ride, so I'm glad we rode it first. Pook seemed satisfied and happy.

We saw something else from up there that we knew we'd have to check out next- motorcycles. Bug rode some, the kiddiest of kiddie rides- at Busch Gardens, and these were the same. He still talks about the ones at Busch Gardens. Seeing them at the fair made his day. Absolutely thrilled. Pook went along but saw it for what it was, a simple circle.

[true quote you'll get if you talk to Bug: "I'm gonna get a motorcycle when I'm bigger. My mama says I have to pay my own insurance first."]

We splurged on funnel cakes and spewed powder sugar everywhere, then walked around to see the sights. After observing the three rides that went upside down, CD and I chose the relatively tame Pirate Ship Swing to ride with the boys. It too was too scary for at least three of us. They did a fun ride swinging in circles on their bellies, then the Tilt-a-Whirl together while we watched.

There was a fabulous show with high divers in a 9' pool. The finale included a dive from 86'. Impressive. We saw the ending to a BMX bike performance and I was secretly pleased that one of the guys fell. While he hopped right back on his bike (only a helmet, no extra pads) he did deter my boys from wanting to attempt any bike tricks back at home.

We ate corn dogs, onion rings, and Frito Pies for dinner then checked out the presence of exhibit halls and barns. I didn't drag them past the blue ribbon floral arrangements or prize winning seed displays, but they had fun checking out the barn. The fair is too small to have judged livestock so I think these were here just to see and be seen. There was a camel, some llamas, an emu, a wallaby, and many more common farm animals including the hugest bull I'd ever seen. CD let the kids buy animal food and they declared the goats tongues "warm and wet".

Pook had said he was tired an hour before, so we finally called it a night. It was late for them, but just enough to be exciting. We could see the rides lit up and hear the music pounding as we walked to our car through the dusty fields.

I think I spend as much time watching my boys' faces as I do watching the events that are so thrilling to them. Bug, especially, is incredibly expressive. He lights up when he's excited and everyone around him catches the feeling. The next day I enjoy the sifting of memories . I like to hear what comes out on top as "the bestest" and what gets exaggerated, "I wasn't scared at all!" We can't choose what our kids remember and what we think is best is not always what they'll like. But I think this one was a keeper.


  1. Sounds like you had fun. We go to the IN State Fair every year still.

  2. What a fabulous post! I think you said somewhere that your folks don't read your blog, but I think they'd love to read this beautifully written piece. And, yes, I think this is one of those outings that your kids will look back on with fond memories.

  3. Les, I need to come out and let my parents start reading them, I know. I just know my mom will gush over everything I write and I'll stop to think about what she'll think every time I start to type. Gotta get over it- they'd enjoy the family journal aspect of it for sure. They were out of town so I don't think I've even told them about the fair yet. I will.