That was the quote of the week that sums up the entire Fair Experience, as far as I can tell. I couldn't do better, and I owe it to the one and only Vulgar Wizard, as spoken to my daughter in the Corn Maze. (Yes, it actually WAS cut in that pattern, which was very cool but you couldn't tell even from the observation bridge in the middle but at one point VW decided we were traveling down an antler which was cool.)
It's Fall, and that means the Fair has come to town, and around that august occasion occurs several birthdays and now is the long downhill slide to the New Year. It never ceases to amaze me how fast it goes once you reach October. The wind starts to catch a slight chill, promising cold to come. The leaves begin turning, the grass stops growing, and my daughter gets older.
14 now. A teenager in word and deed and, were I to cut her in half and count her rings, years. She got her first 'real' iPod yesterday for he birthday, a sleek little black thing no longer than my finger and as thin as a whore's promise, all uber-modern matte black. I remember trying to tote around a Sony Walkman cassette player slightly smaller than a paperback book. *sigh*
But this isn't going to be a lament post. It's going to be about the Fair, that strange occurance that haunts and disturbs me and makes me smile a little, all at the same time.
Every year I promise myself I will go the evening they begin setting up and snap photos of the rides in black and white--empty, skeletal, half-built shapes against dark skies. Hints of Something Wicked This Way Comes in the brooding shapes, the hulking trucks. I also see myself shooting very close focused photographs of carousel horses with their flared nostrils and wild eyes, the wear of thousands of hands and feet on their fiberglass bodies. Well, this time it snuck in on me and was assembled and causing traffic-flow troubles for two days before I even knew it was here.
Every year I promise myself I will go at night with camera and tripod and take stunning long-exposure shots of the rides--colourful blurs, smears of light against black skies so vivid you can hear the delighted screams of the children on board. Then every year the reality strikes me--parking twenty minutes away so I can cross two lanes of traffic and walk into the fairgrounds carrying thirty pounds of awkward equipment so I can set up and try to snap photos in between masses of people who might well have a hankering to steal my very expensive camera equipment. That's not even mentioning the copious amounts of dust that will work it's way into every nook and crevice of my camera and lenses.
Sour grapes? Not necessarily. Just...a reality check, I guess. The sensible me taking control and shaking me gently by the lapels.
This year was a bit different, though. Instead of simply avoiding the week-long traffic hazard that is The Fairgrounds I actually got involved. A little. I entered three photos in the adult division photo competition, one each in the Colour: Animal, Colour: Person and Colour: Other categories, and swept the boards--second place on each one. I was actually quite pleased with myself, and didn't even let the harpy-like shrews running the door this evening ruin my mood when I went to reclaim my 8x10 glossies.
The other involvement was my daughter. A few years ago she, like her father, got wind of the fact that unless you're going there for the shaky and thrown-up-overnight thrill rides (I've always been partial to the Ferris Wheel) there's not a lot for you to do at the Fair other than hand your money over for cheap trinkets, plastic geegaws and goldfish in very small bowls. Browsing the surprisingly sizeable fair catalog we saw they were also having, sandwiched between show rabbits, goat agility and tractor-driving competitions, a pet show.
Mind you, a PET show, not a dog show, but the entry was free and we figured it'd be fun. We bathed and very lightly groomed Belle and entered her in the Non-4H Dog competition, Large group (any dog over 18" tall. Yeah, we had that pretty easily.) Not exactly the down-and-back of an AKC show but my now fourteen-year old got in there and walked Belle around the ring, answered questions about her and in general made us very proud.
(That's Humpty and his partner Dumpty behind her in 4-H green, the professional and utterly unbiased (*snort*) judges.)
When the dust had cleared they'd won first place in her division! *G* I know, I shouldn't gloat; it's not truly fair, us bringing a pointed AKC registered sighthound to a local pet show. It's equivalent to bringing a .357 Magnum to a fistfight, but I can say this: we weren't the ONLY ones who brought their show dogs to the ring. 'Nuff said. They then proceeded to lose to a five-year old boy with a horribly ill-mannered French Bulldog, whose owner was the shrill grandmother shouting directions from just over the little rope divider, but Humpty and his brother decided to ignore the outside interference AND the elegant, relaxed, impeccably well-behaved Borzoi in favor of the cute little boy and gave him Best of Show and accompanying trophy.
Me, I'm just tickled as hell that my ultra shy daughter got up there in that ring in front of a MASS of people and showed Belle. Proud? You could say so.
Fourteen years and another Fair has come and gone. Now all that remains is three more birthdays (Mrs. I and one nephew in late October and VW in December,) Thanksgiving, Xmas and New Years. It'll be easy as falling down a greased slope, I can say that for certain, having already felt my feet come out from under me. Me, I'm ready for some cold weather, for the turn of the season and the promise of a new year ahead.
Next year's Fair I'll get some photos, too. I promised myself.