Yesterday I took both the boys to the State Fair. By myself. Ages four and one, it was a challenge. But their dad is at home on crutches, icing a bad sprain, and it’s a long holiday weekend, and I’ve been talking up the fair to our eldest for a week now. We had a wonderful time.
One day far from now, they will probably not remember much, maybe not even a moment of our very full day, filled with tractors and 4-H displays and baby animals and carnival rides and ice cream cones. Or maybe they will have a vague memory of a special piece of our day. I wonder what it might be.
So what was the point if one day this experience will recede into the depths of the mind we cannot reach? Why the packing of snacks and diapers and sunscreen and water bottles? Why the hour’s drive south in traffic? Why, knowing that envitably we’ll all suffer the end-of-the-day crankiness and refusing-of-bedtime-hugs and crashing-into-sleep-because-the-world-isn’t-fair-and-I-just-want-one-more-fill-in-the-blank?!?!
I believe there are several points for why going to a State Fair is worth it.
1) Anticipation. It can be a beautiful thing to observe in a four-year-old.
2) Big wide eyes, open, exploring, taking everything in… especially the sparkly lights of the spinning ferris wheel (and disappointment, when minimum height requirement to board solo isn’t met).
3) BIG BIG BIG… everything exists in enormous sizes at the Fair. We purchase a size small lemonade, and we are served the biggest cup we’ve ever seen! (and I’ll refrain from commenting on how this might impact American health and well being…this wasn’t a work day)
4) 4-H.The animals are awesome….we learn that some sheep breeds are better raised for meat; others for wool. Their soft thick coats keep them extra warm in the August heat. Gentle goats nuzzle both boys and make them smile. Miniature horses nod in our direction. Dairy cows are worth an extra pat; we purchase 16 oz of Oregon milk on the way out for Max, which he guzzles down cold. We note elegant and colorful llamas performing in the agility ring on our way out.
A note on 4-H, for those readers whom, like me, didn’t learn much about raising animals besides the domesticated cat and dog, and an occasional goldfish, while growing up. 4-H is the nation’s largest youth development program and is operated by 109 land-grant universities and the Cooperation Extension Service. While I am certain there are real arguments to oppose raising animals for milk, or warmth, or meat through big ag mechanisms, I am touched by the young 4-HRers that we observed today; ages 10-18, they handled their animals gently, skillfully, and confidently, while bringing them to water, food, or the center of stages, a performance in which the animals showed their talent, which was mostly just being themselves, strong and healthy, provided for by people and housed among other animals in care and in trust.The boys are way too young for the evening portion of the State Fair, and as we headed out dozens and dozens of couples and familes strolled in. The Judds are playing tonight at the Center Stage. Fairgoers are young and old, white and Latino and black and Asian and multi racial, fat and not fat, and some have expectations that are almost papable as they hand in their tickets, and some remain somewhat on the sidelines, a bit reluctant to join in the throngs of a dusty, busy, loud group of strangers filling the fairgrounds on a hot summer evening. It was great to have joined them for this one day.