Friday, August 22, 2008

Fairly Fantastic (and a Friday Five)

So, we're back from the Great NY State Fair. I'm still kind of brain dead a whole day later - it was a much longer trip than we'd planned. Long, but FUN!

Without further ado or promise of decent coherence, here's the photo recap!

One of the first things we did after arriving at the Fair was stop by the State Park Something-or-Other tent, where the kids were sucked in with the lure of making their own bug masks. The two choices of bugs are both bugs that travel inside cut wood and the point was that these are bad bugs who are invasive and non-native, and so you should never move firewood from one place to another. Or maybe it was any wood - I kinda missed the educational portion of this whole thing as we don't presently own a fireplace for which we'd need wood. I do know that all three of the kids opted to make the Emerald Ash Borer mask...

This is Kiddo showing off her mask. The thing that struck me funny about this entire endeavor was that one of my most common nicknames for Kiddo is "Bug" which is short for either Lovebug or Bugaboo (also things I call her frequently). So while she was diligently following the nice State Park Bug Ladies' instructions and making her mask, I was chipping in with various tips and suggestions like "Bug, why don't you use the crayon instead of the marker?" and encouragement like "Good job cutting out those eyeholes, Bug!" It was weird yet funny. (Then again, I do occasionally get looks from strangers when I call out "BUG! Time to go!" or some such thing like when we're at the playground, so I guess not everyone thinks "bug" is a term of endearment....)

Here's Kiddo and her two best friends, all Emerald Ash Borer-ed out! The State Park Bug Ladies also gave each kid some frighteningly realistic bug tattoo sheets, but we opted to "save them for after we get home and bathed" which wound up not happening last night (well, we got home, but didn't do any bathing as the kids were out cold by the time we pulled into the driveway) so now I'm kinda hoping Kiddo forgets I have the tattoo paper tucked away somewhere and we won't find ourselves flying off to Florida with a partially faded, scarily accurate looking bug crawling on her hand/arm...

Something new at the Fair this year was a bear show. It was billed as being educational, but please, you can say the bears are "demonstrating how they'd cross the stones in a river while fishing in the wild" but the bear still is really just doing tricks, I mean I'm fairly sure that in the wild, bears neither ride bicycles or play basketball, nor do they wear muzzles and harnesses (however cleverly disguised they are to look like wreaths of flowers). The kids still were loving every second of the show, though, so cynical Mommy just hushed up and snapped some pictures.

There will be butter! Lots of butter! Strangely fascinating as ever, the butter sculpture rotating away in its refrigerated display case... And to answer Hot Tub Lizzy's question from my earlier butter sculpture-related post: this year, for the first time ever, the sculpture is going to be melted down and recycled into bio fuel. (Bio-fuel? Biofuel? You know what I mean, right? Clean burning, non-gas related fuel.) Apparently 960-something pounds of butter ultimately will make 96 gallons of fuel.

We saw some of the 4-H agricultural exhibits (I always request and am indulged by my companions in a stroll through the sheep barn, where I go all misty-eyed from nostalgia) and also walked through several of the exhibition halls. More exciting than the ag barns in the kids' opinion was the petting zoo, where they love to feed the critters. Here's Kiddo feeding a zebu. (Also sometimes spelled cebu, as in the VeggieTales' Song of the Cebu, which invariably takes root in my brain as soon as I see the cebu at the Fair.)

Of course, no trip to the Fair is complete without hitting the rides over on the midway. They set up the kiddie rides in their own mini-midway, which is really, really nice. Not only does it place all the "you won't be too short for this one" rides in excellent proximity, but it is less crowded with drunken and/or slack-jawed yokels (as only those yokels with kids head into this section) and it lessens the pleas for "Oh can't I go on THAT one Mommy?" while the pleader is looking longingly at some Horrifying Contraption o' Barfing-or-Death. Here are the kids on the dragon coaster - Kiddo's the one (the only one!) with her arms in the air:

You may note that the kiddo's shirt changed color partway through the day. Well, her first shirt was utterly filthy and also rather damp (from beverages more than sweat or sunscreen) by the time we were done with the post-lunch fried dough break, so she changed. All the kids changed clothes again when we got into the car to head home, because somehow they just get soooooooooo dirty on Fair Day that us moms now pack at least one extra set of clothes for each person traveling in the car.

Last but not least, no trip to the Fair is complete without that ridiculously overpriced, yet somehow irresistibly delicious, fresh-squeezed lemonade. After thoroughly hydrating the kids with grape Hawaiian shaved ices (aka a slightly less chemical-filled alternative to the Sno-Cone) that were approximately the size of their heads, the moms stopped at a lemonade stand on our way to the exit and indulged in a drink for the road. My friend kindly honored my request to take a quick pic of me with my newly acquired beverage.....

Yes, I know, I know: totally hot. Literally - I was melting. I sweated off my sunscreen at least twice over the course of the day, and by this point was also covered in a fine layer of grit as well. Apparently that is the one thing that tames the Wolverine Van Beethoven hair, by the way: massive amounts of sweat and midway dust. Sadly, this is not readily available in any hair product line I've found... Aussie or Pantene needs to get on that asap!

So, at about 7pm, with lemonades in hand, we pulled the wagons full of exhausted, grimy kids to the parking lot after one final restroom stop, just in case. However, we woefully underestimated the amount of liquid contained in the approximately 5 pounds of shaved ice each kid had ingested immediately prior to our departure, and we hadn't gone more than half a mile out of the parking lot when the "I've gotta pee! NOW!" chorus began from in back. We stopped not once, not twice, but thrice for roadside emergency potty breaks. (The third time was in an underlit and weedy Park-n-Ride lot in the pitchest black of night. We could barely see the kids, much less whither went their pee... Peeing by minivan headlight: not an experience for the weak of heart!) To their credit, each time we stopped, copious amounts were produced so no one was bluffing just for the fun of having the moms stress out about "will we make it?" while trying to find the nearest, safest spot at which to pull over. Gotta love traveling with kids and their little, wimpy bladders...

So, that was our trip to the Fair this year. There were other highlights, like the kids getting up close and personal with some sea lions - Kiddo and her one friend got kissed right on the noggin by them! - and other assorted fun like the kid-sized bumper cars (no adult driver or rider necessary!) and the cut-outs that made the kids look like the world's cutest sheep, goat and cow, but those photos are too easily identifying-able for Kiddo and her friends, so they won't be going up here. (They will be up on Facebook in a little while...)

Now before I conk out for the night (dang, I'm getting old that I'm still wiped out from yesterday, though to be fair, Kiddo and I had a busy day that ended with a vigorous, hour swim), here's the Friday Five - Fairly Fantastic Edition!

1) What's your must-do/see stop at a fair? Mine is the sheep barn, as I mentioned, oh - and any good musicians, too. This year the kids got down and boogied to a great Dixieland Jazz quintet.

2) Favorite ride at the fair? Mine would be the swinging chairs and the giant slide.

3) Favorite fair food? Gotta go funnel cake here, though the kettle corn is also tasty...

4) Favorite fair beverage? You know I'm all about that lemonade!!

5) Fairs: love 'em or hate 'em? Obviously, I'm in the LOVE category!

As always, please feel free to play along with the F5, either here in the comments or over on your own blog (let us know if that's what you do so we can see your responses)!

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