Donut Cones, Patriotism, and Girl (horse)Power: Observations from the State Fair, Part IX:

WOW…have I actually been sharing my thoughts and observations as the official PA announcer for the local state fair for NINE YEARS now? Time does, indeed, fly.

Sharing my yearly experience is something I have done every year, except for 2020 – which we don’t talk about. (the fair was cancelled due to Covid, natch) In the past, I’ve learned that I walk a minimum of 9 miles each day, that Whoppers are the most despised candy, and that sand used for sand sculptures is different from normal beach sand.

Yes, I have learned a great deal working at the Hopkinton State Fair – and as far as revelations go, this year’s fair did not disappoint!

A whole lot of guys seem to like the color pink these days. Everywhere I turned, I was seeing pink: shirts, shorts, pink, even socks. Not judging – just a bit surprised, that’s all. With my dark blue “fair official” polo shirt, I was feeling a bit left out!

No matter how old I get, a car that transforms into a robot will always be cool.

BIG BEE, The Transforming Robot Car™!

“Big Bee,” as he is known, was at the fair for the first time this year. If you’ve seen a particular movie or a particular TV show about “transforming” cars that turn into giant robot warriors, then you’ll recognize this bright yellow Chevrolet Camaro. He drew quite a crowd, I’ll tell you that.

Click the photo and you can see him in action!

The National Anthem is popular again. In past posts, I’ve bemoaned the loss of patriotism based on my observations of people wandering around during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” each day at noon, seemingly oblivious to what was happening. This year, for some reason, was different – very different. When we announced the playing the anthem and asked people to rise…they did! Nearly everyone I could see from the grandstand tower stopped, turned toward the nearest flag, and paid respect. What a difference a pandemic makes, eh?

Watching your son go nuts at a Monster Truck Show is one of the best experiences a dad can have.

Some people just don’t understand the culinary diversity of a country fair. I happened to overhear a man and woman talking as they walked past me. The guy was holding some sort of giant food item and his wife/girlfriend wore an increduous look on her face. “How can you EAT that s**t??” she exclaimed.

His reply? “Because it’s really good s**t!”

Hard to argue with a man who knows what he likes.

Cinnamon sugar and blueberries for your fried pickles? Hey, who am I to judge?
I need to go back now and try the other 5 varieties.

Donut ice cream cones are my new obsession. Speaking of food, I discovered a new innovation my first night working there. Wrap a piece of dough around a wooden cone, deep-fry it, spread the interior with Nutella, dust it with cinnamon sugar, fill it with ice cream – oh, and be sure to plug up the hole at the bottom of the cone first with a Lindt truffle.

Candy apples have been around for nearly 100 years. The first red candy apple was created in 1908 by a New Jersey candy maker who was experimenting with the red cinnamon candy he sold during the Christmas season. He dipped a few apples in the mixture, set them on his counter, and the rest, as they say, is history.

If someone had told me a year ago that I’d be ordering stir-fry at a country fair, I’d have told them they were crazy. Yet, here I was, ordering garlic chicken with pineapple fried rice…and loving it so much that I had to go back and try the sesame chicken and Pad Thai noodles. I’ve never eaten – or even seen – anything at any fair that was as restaurant-quality as what Indochine Pavilion was serving up – but I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes open for them again. (and yes, the guy was checking the internal temperature of each piece. Kudos to you, my good man)

Electricity may just be a boring old natural phenomenon that’s been around since the dawn of timebut when you put it inside little colored light bulbs, it sure is pretty.

Girls are doing a great job of competing with the boys! I’m not a huge fan of demolition derbies, but they are fun to watch; drivers smash each other’s cars to smithereens in the hopes that their own vehicle is the last standing (or crawling, as the case might be). The annual Demo Derby at the Hopkinton State Fair is always a sell-out, and this year, as something different, organizers instituted a new event: young drivers, ages 12-15, with an adult passenger.

All safety precautions were in place, and the track is so muddy the cars can’t really go as fast as one might fear – but the thing that impressed me most was the fact that, out of 10 cars participating, 5 were driven by boys and 5 were driven by girls! And when it was all said and done, the winner was a boy and the runner-up was a girl. Talk about your equal-smashing opportunities.

Y’know, my daughter might have zero interest in driving in a demo derby, but I’m glad I can tell her she can, if she wants to!

Remind me to never do this:

Finally, the best way to confront your fears is by tackling them head-on. Justin Spencer from the band Recycled Percussion is a local fellow (actually, they’re ALL local fellows!) who has struggled with panic attacks a good part of his life. Closed spaces really freak him out. So he decided to do the only logical thing that any of us would do to try to combat that fear.

He had himself buried underground.

Yep, he and his charity organization Chaos & Kindness arranged to have Justin buried inside a wooden box for 24 hours. He did this not only to kick his panic atacks in the a**, as he stated, but to help raise money for disadvantaged kids who need school supplies. So he and the group staged a huge event at the fair, he kissed his wife and daughter before heading down into the ground, and a ventilation system kept fresh air going through his living quarters until he was pulled out the next day.

And when he finally saw daylight again, he greeted his family and friends and did a quick impromptu performance with his bandmates. Panic attacks are going to have to go find someone else to bother now.

Thank you, and good night!

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I continue adding to my “Wit & Wordplay” videos ! These videos were created for parents and educators (along with their kids) to learn how to write poetry, appreciate it, and have fun with it. From alliteration and iambs to free verse and spine poetry, I’m pretty sure there’s something in these videos you’ll find surprising! You can view them all on my YouTube channel, and if you have young kids looking for something to keep busy with, I also have several downloadable activity sheets at my website.

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