Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Fair Enough

We went to the Tulsa State Fair Sunday afternoon. I haven't been much of a fairgoer during my adult life; I always had other things to do, and there never seemed to be a compelling reason to go. This year, though, I was looking forward to it, mainly because Lileks videoblogged the fair in Minnesota for buzz.mn and it got me feeling nostalgic.

So how was it this year? Pretty good day, all around. We got there early in the afternoon, parking in the neighborhood several blocks away from the front entrance. I was a little uneasy about leaving my car unattended on a strange street, but Mother-In-Law said that was how she always did it. Walked into the Expo Square building which was the main entrance. They had gigantic booths for Channel 8 and for the combined Channel 6 and 12, but I couldn't find a Fox 23 booth.

We went outside to let The Girl ride some rides. While they were in line for a ride, I went to buy a corn dog. You have to have a corn dog at the fair; it's the law, somewhere. While I was in line, I felt a gurgle in my intestines. I figured I was just hungry, but then I felt it again, and again. I was starting to worry; I'd had a burrito for lunch, and thought maybe it was going to take some kind of revenge on me, which would certainly not make for a pleasant fair experience.

That tingly gurgle kept going, rhythmically, and then I heard a faint chirp and realized that it was just my phone vibrating. It was work calling with a technical problem. I was able to eat my corn dog in peace.

After a few rides, we visited the animal barns. We walked through the cow barn and saw a lot of, you know, cows. Down one row and back another, and the last one we saw was a calf having lunch at its mom's udder. How cute, how beautiful. Oh, the miracle of life. Then we walked out the front door and down toward the next section, passing a small pavilion out front sponsored by the Cattlemen's Association, where they were grilling steak.

This is the thing I love about the fair. Because they will unapologetically shove those two things together, right in your face. In other aspects of our modern lives, they try to separate those realities, the food you eat and the creatures it comes from, so you can pretend that meat just comes off the magic meat tree and eat in good conscience. But at the fair, there's a big barn full of cows, and right out front, a perfect demonstration of what they're good for. And for good measure, down at the end of the building, a big room full of leather goods and cowhides.

We also took a turn through the petting zoo and the poultry section, which wasn't so much a thrill for me, although I was astounded to see a young giraffe in the petting zoo.

After the animals, The Girl wanted to ride the Ferris Wheel, so we got in line. It was okay, although we had to wait in line an extra long time while sheriff's deputies searched the ride. They'd had a report that a gun had fallen off one of the Ferris Wheels, and they were trying to find it.

Right by the Ferris Wheel was the closest remnant of the sideshows of old, a couple of sorry trailers housing the giant alligator and the giant Texas Rat. This is something I miss about the old fair. I know it's politically incorrect, but there was always a sense of exotic mystery to the old sideshows, the bellydancers and fire-eaters, Popeye and the Bearded Woman and the Leopard-Skinned Man. I remember being titillated by the colorful, dramatic paintings outside, and being disappointed by the drab reality of the show the year I finally worked up my courage to go in.

An even bigger disappointment? The Fighting Pygmies of Africa. A couple of black midgets in boxing gloves, one so obese that he fought from a chair; luckily, he was a lot bigger than his opponent, so he kept knocking the little dude down. Just sad.

After a turn through the Made in Oklahoma building and some airbrush tattoos for Girl and Wife, I was about faired out. We headed back into Expo Square toward home, but Mother-In-Law decided she wanted to check out the shows. There was a magic show scheduled at 7, and they decided to stay for it. I took one more turn through the building to see if I could find a booth for Fox 23. I saw lots of other stuff, and a blonde with cleavage convinced me to sign up for a drawing being held by Creek Nation Casino, but no Fox. I made it back in time for the end of the magic show.

We walked outside, and it was raining hard, water shooting off the gutters in thick streams. After a few minutes though, the rain abated, and we started walking. It was actually pretty nice. Just a few sprinkles, and the evening was pleasantly cool after getting hot at the end of the afternoon. It was the perfect end to a nice day out, until we got a block away from the car and the sky opened up again. The last couple of minutes were a mad scramble to reach the car, get it unlocked and get inside.

All in all, though, a good day.

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