Bloghero Stacy recently had a post about the menu at the MN State Fair. It is indeed fair season, especially here in the Midwest. There isn’t much else to do so why not go watch pig judging, ride the Tilt-A-Whirl, and stuff your gob with food that only tastes good when it is 95 degrees and you are surrounded by dust, sweat, and the smell of penned animals. I do actually like the fair. In fact, our county fair was last week and I took ½ day off work to go watch, of course, the horse and pony judging. I wandered thru the 4-H buildings while I was waiting for my friend to meet me. As I browsed the food and clothing exhibits, I guess I got a little nostalgic...so I made a list of what I miss about being a kid at the county fair:
I miss the fair being free. There was no entrance fee until just a few years ago when they started charging $5.00 admission. This was huge in our town. The old folks gasped in horror and became outraged so now if you are over 100 years old (or something like that) you get in free. I am only 40 so $5.00 for me. Bummer.
I miss riding the Rocco-Planes with my friend Ellen. We would ride several times in a row until we figured out how to remain upside-down for the entire duration of the ride. The year we turned 11 or 12 we were so good we landed at the *time to get off the ride, kid* place upside-down. The not-so-friendly-tattooed-possible-child-molester-carny-guy got really mad at us and said if we didn’t start landing right-side-up we couldn’t ride anymore. See, I was even a rebel back then.
I miss my younger sister working at the lemonade shake-up stand. My sister was extremely spoiled and a bit prissy so to watch her perform customer service for about 45,000 sweaty, thirsty, and often obnoxious county fair attendees for an entire week was always a treat. One year she burned her hand really bad on the first day and couldn’t work the rest of the week. I still have not figured out how she burned her hand at a lemonade stand.
I miss being in 4-H. I, of course, desperately wanted to be in horse and pony projects; however, even back then I could not have a horse since we lived in a subdivision. My parents tried to appease me by letting me raise rabbits. My poor dad, who was not blessed with the skills of a carpenter, built 2 rabbit hutches for our backyard. Even tho Ray swears he followed the instructions in the 4-H manual, on really windy days the hutches would blow over. You could almost hear my poor rabbits screaming, “ooooooooOOOOOOOOhhhhhh” as the wind caught the roof of the hutch and over it went, rabbits tumbling every which way. It was probably a bit like The Wizard of Oz or Twister in the rabbit slum of my backyard.
I miss going thru the 4-H exhibit buildings with friend Ellen. I was no less sarcastic back then and Ellen was as bad as I. We would peruse the different projects, and do our own judging. Here some kid spent hours sewing a wrap skirt in first year clothing and we would be doubled over laughing at the crooked seams and the red bandana material. We were evil. The photography projects were the most fun…we would almost pee our pants at the projects that got bad grades. You could always tell the ones who took all of their pictures on the same day and were desperate for subject matter because they were all pictures of the same flower or of the same person in the same clothes for all of the shots. I am sure no one appreciated our critiques but boy that was a hoot.
Most of all I miss the annual 4-H Fashion Review. If you are not from 4-H country, think Paris runways on a slightly smaller scale. The Fashion Review was the big night where, prior to the start of The Fair and in the lights of the stage at the local high school, the 4-H clothing project participants modeled the outfits they had sewn. It was a *Review*, if you will, of the outfits to be judged at the county fair, displayed in the exhibit building, (and laughed at by smartasses such as myself and friend Ellen). Actually, both Ellen and I were in the clothing project so it was double the fun to be a participant in addition to our own judging. It was a big night here in town and of course, there were always a few girls who were quite sure they were Cheryl Tiegs or Rachel Hunter, the popular supermodels at that time, in their carefully sewn wrap skirts and Dr. Scholl’s sandals. The evening was always narrated by a woman who was the Martha Stewart of our town. In the fair off-season, she gave seminars about canning, sewing with difficult nylon fabrics, and decoupage. I guess that somehow qualified her to be the Mistress of Ceremonies for the 4-H Fashion Review. The thing about her was that she had a touch of a Southern Indiana accent so she would start out the evening saying, "Welcome ever-one to the 4-Aiche Faishon Revieeew. She would then give a brief description of everyone's outfits as they modeled on stage. "Betsee is ready for a Spring luncheon in her festive calico wrap-skirt and kicky Dr. Sholl’s sandals. Thank-eeeuuu Betsy.” Betsy would nervously walk to the center of the stage, squinting in the bright lights. Center stage, we were instructed to take a step forward, turn so the eager audience could see our fine garment from all sides, and then walk off stage. Some kids would be all nervous and twirl really fast and then practically run off stage. The Mistress of Ceremonies Lady would kind of frown at those kids because they weren’t following her instructions. There was one family during my 4-H years that by far dominated the clothing projects. There were about 5 kids, all girls, and their mother was a master seamstress. They completely blew everyone, including Ellen and I, out of the water and won Grand Champion every year. We hated them. The Mistress of Ceremonies Lady, of course, LOVED them. She would glow as she described their outfits. “Janelle is a star athlete and ready for action in her sporty aerobics outfit. Sewn with difficult nylon and stretch terry,” (she got all orgasmic when people sewed with such challenging fabrics) “Janelle is the captain of the team as she burns those calories in cheery bright blue and white.” She would always comment on the accessories the girl had to go with the outfit. “Janelle accessorizes her fun and kicky outfit with matching blue leg warmers, cushy Nikes, and sport towel!” We would all stand backstage in our Bare Traps and boring cotton outfits and wish we could sew creative and fun outfits like Janelle and her sisters. Often we would argue about who had to follow that act. I guess the good part of the whole 4-H thing is that I learned how to sew…it does come in handy sometimes although I never did try to tackle nylon fabrics. Plus, it gave me a start in modeling…lol.
So, there’s my list! Thanks Stacy, for this little trip back to my wild days. Happy fair-going everyone!