Ah, yes, it’s that time of year again: fair season!
As the official PA announcer for our local state fair, I learn a great deal about life, the world around us, and overly-fattening foods, and try to share these little nuggets of wisdom with you each year. In past blog posts, I’ve shared various enlightening aspects of the fair, from pet camels and poop hats to dinosaur costumes and battered savs. This year, a whole slate of new, surprising things:
- Ice cream’s earliest beginnings date back to pre-Christianity.
The fact that both Alexander the Great and Nero Caesar enjoyed a frozen treat now and then somehow imbues their histories with a tad more humanity, don’t you think? I can just imagine the two of them walking down the pathways at the fair, sharing a funnel cake, arguing over whether Hawaiian Ice is superior to a Sno-cone. (It is, in case you’re wondering)
- When you spend 4 days doing nothing but walking and talking, your legs will eventually start crying ‘Uncle.’ My wife checked my phone’s Health app at the end of my first day, Friday, and discovered I’d walked 25,000 steps – or, in other words, NINE MILES. In just the first day. Consequently, I ate as much fair food as I wanted and after four days, I had a net weight gain of zero. Score one for the Fried Oreos.
- No treasure map is worth this much trouble. The Pirates of the Colombian Caribbean Aerial High Wire Thrill Show balanced and battled atop the high wire, sword-fighting and jumping around, each trying to steal the map from the other. I would’ve said, “Oh, THAT map? The one 50 feet in the air? It’s all yours, my friend, I’m good.”
- Accept what is offered to you. This is doubly true when talking about fried dough.
- All teenagers believe they are invincible; some, apparently, are. A long-standing tradition here at the fair is the demolition derby, a two-day event that runs both Sat. and Sun. evenings. Contrary to what you may think, there is a great deal of strategy and skill required for driving, and a solid knowledge of how to put the cars together in such a way that they hold together as long as they can while getting smashed to pieces. (One also needs to know how to put them BACK together in time to run a second round!)
This past weekend, a young fellow who knew his way around cars decided to enter the derby for the very first time. He put his car together according
to all the rules and regulations regarding weight, welds, tire specs, etc., and drove the thing himself. His family and friends teased him a little beforehand, knowing he’d never been in a derby before and knowing he was going up against veteran drivers and crews who had been doing this for 20+ years.
He beat them all, and took home $2000 and a trophy the size of a small child. Oh, and did I mention he’s only 16 years old?
- I want to be a Transformer when I grow up. Or a tree.
- Am I the only one who doesn’t understand why vulgarity is so popular? Everywhere I turned, it seemed, I was being bombarded with T-shirts containing words that start with “F.” I’m all for free speech and free expression, but what kind of thought process goes on inside the brain of someone who decides the very best thing they should wear out in public, in front of hundreds of little children, is a shirt emblazoned with ‘that’ word on it? I mean, I’m not a prude and I’m not trying to censor anyone…but seriously, can’t people censor themselves??
- It may be a fun, family-friendly event, but tension can sometimes run high. When I saw this scene up in the grandstand tower, all I could think of was that Willy Wonka quote…
- One can microwave an i-phone for 20 seconds without causing any adverse effects. This was something I inadvertently learned after I had come home from the fair on the third night. I was holding a freshly-made sausage sub, several papers, my sunglasses, and my cellphone all together and needed to set them down. I certainly didn’t want one of the dogs to eat my dinner off the kitchen counter, so I set the sub down in the microwave, since I was going to need to warm it up a bit, and put my papers and glasses aside for tomorrow.
I turned the microwave on for 20 seconds and when it beeped, I opened up the door – and stared in absolute horror. There, underneath the sub, was my cellphone! In my haste, I’d left it there…and had no idea what to expect. It was a bit hot, and I worried (I wouldn’t say I panicked, really, even though “panicked” is absolutely the most precise word to use) that it was a lost cause and had gone to that great Apple orchard in the sky. But I pressed the button, it turned on, and has been working fine since! Not only that, but the sub was just the right temperature, so it turned out to be a happy ending for all involved. And by “all,” I mean me.
I can’t believe I’ve been announcing for 10 years now, and I still find new things that surprise and astound me. Have you ever been surprised at something you witnessed at the local fair? I’d love to hear about it – leave me a comment!
Ordering personalized signed copies online?
Oh, yes, you can!
You can purchase personalized signed copies of Flashlight Night, (Boyds Mills Press, 2017), Don’t Ask a Dinosaur (Pow! Kids Books, 2018), and nearly ALL of the books or anthologies I’ve been part of!
Just click the cover of whichever book you want and send the good folks at MainStreet BookEnds in Warner, NH a note requesting the signature and to whom I should make it out to. (alternatively, you can log onto my website and do the same thing) They’ll contact me, I’ll stop by and sign it for you, and then they’ll ship it. Try doing that with those big online booksellers! (Plus, you’ll be helping to support local book-selling – and wouldn’t that make you feel good?)
Thank you to everyone for your support!
- NY Public Library’s “100 Best Book for Kids 2017” AND “Staff Pick!”
- KIRKUS Starred review!
- Kansas NEA Reading Circle Recommended Books!
- “Best Reads of 2017,” Unleashing Readers
- Amazon “Best Books of the Month,” Sept. 2017
- Positive reviews from Horn Book, School Library Connection, Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, and Shelf-Awareness
- “Rollicking rhyme!” – Booklist
- “A wild romp!” – Parenting NH Magazine
- “Cute…intriguing…4 out of 5 stars” – Tulsa Book Review
- “Rhythmic…funny and informative” – Unleashing Readers
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10 thoughts on “Popular vulgarity, treasure maps, and the invincibility of youth: Observations from the state fair , Vol. VIII”
I always love these “fair” round-ups, Matt! Amusing! Thanks…
The derby story sounds like a movie! And maybe the iPhone story could be a short cartoon? Happy endings for both (and also for eating as much as you want)!
Happy endings all the way around, Tabatha!
I went to our State Fair last weekend with my hubby to promote his picture book on Mining day. They were offering FREE gold panning with the promise of free gold in every pan. That’s not what surprised me though. FREE gold and hardly anyone was stopping! THAT is what surprised me!
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Wow, have Alaskans become that jaded when it comes to panning for gold?? Let me try!!
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I tend to avoid state fairs and other places with so many people. Glad you didn’t gain any weight and glad your phone made it through the microwaving. I agree with you about the T-shirts – what message are we sending? I think unfortunately the current political climate has helped to make things like this acceptable. Here is a letter to the editor i wrote on this subject: https://www.adirondackdailyenterprise.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/2019/08/words-matter/ and here is a blog post i wrote:
Thanks, Yvona. Your blog post is correct, we teach kids to use words wisely, then we adults screw it all up by not choosing our words…wisely. I know lots of folks claim it’s due to the current political climate, but I’ve seen this growing for a couple of decades now; I just hope there are enough level-headed adults out there to set things straight.
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